No matter what the season, our sweet tooth yearns for dessert. This quartet of recipes seems to suit autumn: pudding with thick caramel sauce, pumpkin spices that liven up a homemade syrup, a rich cake full of cinnamon apples and an oven-baked pancake to feed the family.
Banana Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cubed
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
4 cups whole milk
1 (3.4-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
1 (3.4-ounce) box instant banana pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cold heavy cream
6 large bananas, sliced
Nilla Wafers or shortbread cookies*
Make the salted caramel: Sprinkle the sugar in an even layer in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-high heat. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the sugar until it begins to melt and darken in color, about 10 minutes. (If chunks form, continue stirring until they dissolve.) Stop stirring and let the sugar cook, undisturbed, until it turns amber in color, about 5 minutes.
Remove the melted sugar from the heat and whisk in the butter until combined, then slowly and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. (It will bubble vigorously.) Stir in the sea salt then transfer the caramel to a glass container to cool while you prepare the pudding.
Make the banana pudding: In a large bowl, whisk together the milk with the instant vanilla and banana pudding mixes.
In a separate medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and condensed milk.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the cold heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
Stir the cream cheese mixture into the pudding until well combined. Refrigerate the pudding until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, place a layer of Nilla Wafers on the bottom of your serving dish, and then top the wafers with a layer of the pudding, followed by a layer of sliced bananas and a drizzle of the salted caramel sauce. Repeat the layers as needed.
*Notes: The amount of Nilla Wafers you will need depends on how you serve the pudding. You can serve the pudding in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, or make individual banana puddings in your desired serving dishes, such as mason jars, tall glasses or ramekins.
When making caramel, it's really important to use a heavy-bottomed saucepan and to never turn your back on the sugar. It can change from amber to black in a second!
This recipe will yield about 1 cup of caramel. Use a portion of it with the pudding and save the rest, stored in an airtight container in the fridge, for sundaes ... or for eating by the spoonful.
Kelly Senyei, founder of JustaTaste.com
Dutch Baby (German Pancake)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk, warmed
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or other spice (optional)
1 cup fresh fruit or berries
1-2 teaspoons sugar, to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Confectioner's sugar, or maple syrup, honey, or other topping, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the butter in a cast-iron skillet and place in the oven until melted.
2. In a blender, combine the eggs, salt, vanilla, sugar, flour, milk and cinnamon if using. Blend for 20-30 seconds, or until uniform. (You also can do by hand and use a whisk.)
3. Remove the pan from the oven with oven mitts and swirl the butter around to coat the pan completely. Be sure to tip the pan to all sides to make sure the edges and sides are well greased.
4. Pour any excess butter into the batter, and give the blender a pulse to combine.
5. Pour the batter into the hot pan all at once, and return the skillet to the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the pancake has puffed in the center and is golden brown and curled at the edges.
6. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the pancake from the pan with the help of a spatula. If you aren't serving the pancake immediately, place it on a cooling rack to keep from getting soggy on the bottom.
7. Slice into thirds or quarters and top with fruit, sugar, or other toppings to taste.
Serves 3-4 smaller portions, or 2 larger portions.
For the fruit: While the Dutch Baby is in the oven, mix the berries, sugar, and lemon zest in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes or until the berries become slightly syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside. Alternatively, skip the cooking and serve the pancake with fresh berries and a squeeze of lemon juice, or other toppings.
Willcookforfriends.com, Adapted from Malissa d'Arabian
Topped with fragrant cinnamon crumbs, this golden loaf has a hidden treat in the middle: a tart layer of buttery apple slices, nestled inside a layer of cinnamon crumb. Perfect with a cup of coffee, tea, or a glass of cold milk.
Cinnamon Crumb Surprise
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsifted cake flour*
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Apple Filling and BAtter:
1 heaving cup of sliced apple
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 plus 1/16 teaspoon (scant 1/4 teaspoon) salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan, bottom greased and lined with parchment paper, then sprayed or greased and floured. If using a non-stick pan, no need to line the pan.
Make crumb mixture: In a food processor, pulse the sugars, pecan and cinnamon until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Reserve 1/2 cup for the filling.
Add the flour and butter to the remainder and pulse briefly just until butter is absorbed. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to firm up, then use fingertips to form coarse, crumbly mixture for topping.
Prepare filling and mix the batter: Just before mixing batter, peel and core apple. Cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, and toss with lemon juice.
In a medium bowl, lightly combine egg, yolks and about 1/4 of the sour cream and vanilla.
In a mixer bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low speed 30 seconds to blend. Add butter and remaining sour cream and mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium-high speed and beat for 1 minute to aerate and develop the structure, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
Gradually add the egg mixture, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients. Scrape down the sides.
Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup crumb mixture and top with apple slices, arranging them in two rows of overlapping slices. Pour the rest of the batter over the fruit and spread evenly. The batter will be 3/4 inch from the top of the pan. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool, serve and enjoy. Yield: 1 loaf.
*Note: It is fine to use all-purpose flour; the bread will have a firmer texture.
passthecocoa.blogspot.com, from "The Bread Bible"
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a medium saucepan, add water and both sugars. Simmer on medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes.
2. Turn the heat down to low and whisk in cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree. Simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil.
3. Remove from the heat and strain through a mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or a clean tea towel.
4. Allow the syrup to cool to room-temperature before stirring in the vanilla extract. Store in a mason jar or airtight container. The syrup will last for 1 month in the refrigerator. Makes 1 pint.