Giving Thanks & Pumpkin Dip

SAM 4803 Edited Giving Thanks & Pumpkin Dip

On the last day of November, I simply must share one final pumpkin recipe for the season.  With only four ingredients, this pumpkin dip is simple to prepare and tastes delicious served with warm bread, graham crackers and fruit.

In addition to the end of pumpkin recipes on the blog for the time being, the last day of November also draws to a close the 30 Days of Thanksgiving I’ve seen a lot of people take the time post on Facebook over the past month.  But should the date matter?

Some time ago, I read a magazine article that suggested keeping track of the little things people do to bring you joy throughout the year.  At year end, you are supposed to write those individuals a card of thanks for the impact they had on your life.  Anybody up for 365 Days of Thanksgiving at the start of the year?

SAM 4819 Edited Giving Thanks & Pumpkin Dip

Some time ago, I found the recipe for this pumpkin dip on Annie’s Eats.  When I did my weekly check-in on Annie’s blog last Friday, I read the very sad news that her father unexpectedly passed away on Thanksgiving day.  I hesitated to share this news on my blog as it seemed very…I don’t even know…attention-seeking on my part? I don’t know Annie, and Annie certainly doesn’t know me, so it just didn’t seem like my place to share her private grief on my public blog.

So why did I? In her post Annie wrote, “…rather than spending time pushing through hoards of people to find the best deal, you instead spend time giving thanks for the blessings in your life and stick close to the people you love.  At the end of everything else, they are all that really matters.” I believe that bears repeating.

It’s okay to have fun and enjoy the holidays, but like Annie, it is my hope that we continue to spend time giving thanks and sticking close to the people we love while we do. Be well.

SAM 4809 Edited e1322278539929 Giving Thanks & Pumpkin Dip

Pumpkin Dip
Recipe type: Appetizer
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  1. Mix together the pumpkin, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined.



Daring Bakers’ Challenge – Sans Rival

SAM 4616 Edited Daring Bakers Challenge   Sans Rival

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host, and she challeneged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicous Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

To get us started, Catherine explained, “A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, typically using crushed cashews, with very rich French buttercream frosting. The dacquoise is allowed to bake and dry to a crispy layer so that there is the crunch of pastry and nuts with the buttery, silky frosting.”  Dacquoise?  Sounds complicated.  Silky frosting?  Sounds delicious!

I had an absolute blast making this cake. Now that I have managed to successfully whip egg whites into peaks of all sorts, I enjoy watching them transform from liquid to lovely, cloud-like puffs. I baked in batches since I had only two round cake pans, and I made one batch without the chocolate and one batch with the chocolate. I had a bit of difficulty getting the meringues as crisp as I liked, so as suggested, I put the layers back in the still hot oven after removing them from their pans.  This extra bake time definitely helped create a crisp texture.

SAM 4594 Edited Daring Bakers Challenge   Sans Rival

French Buttercream, why have I waited so long to make you? Was I intimidated by your sugar syrup? Or was it the large amount of egg yolks that required beating? Please forgive me for the misunderstanding, because both steps were too easy to have avoided you for this long.

Now that I have made French Buttercream, it pains me to think of all of the confectioners’ sugar frostings I  have used elsewhere on the blog. This buttercream is so rich and decadent that it fits perfectly with the crisp dacquoise layers, just like Catherine said it would. I flavored my French Buttercream with vanilla, and I decorated the top of my Sans Rival cake with additional chocolate frosting since my cake consisted of both white and chocolate dacquoise layers.

I had a bit of a difficult time cutting into the cake (it felt like I was crushing the layers), but the slices turned out okay. The cashews I used to decorate the sides made the cake taste a bit salty, so I would suggest buying unsalted nuts. Wondering what to do with those 5 extra egg yolks?  Make more French Buttercream!  Or bake up some egg bagels or egg yolk cookies.

SAM 4637 Edited e1321816112645 Daring Bakers Challenge   Sans Rival

This was a really fun challenge; it took some time to pull all the steps together, but none were overly difficult. I wanted to try the Bibingka, but I was under the influence of intimidation during my second Daring Bakers’ challenge.  Plus, there was something about the salted eggs and the lovely yellow color of the Bibingka that reminded me of Easter and spring.  By then, I should be up for the second part of this challenge. Enjoy!

Sans Rival
  • Sans Rival
  • 10 large egg whites, room temp
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)
  • 2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted cashews
  • French Buttercream
  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water
  • 1¼ cup (300 ml) (2½ sticks) (285 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Optional Flavorings: 2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) almond extract, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) vanilla extract, or any flavor you like
  1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
  2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
  3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.).
  4. Sprinkle with cream of tartar.
  5. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)
  6. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.
  7. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the
  9. baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.
  10. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.
  11. To make the French Buttercream, put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
  12. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F/112°C (or thread stage).
  13. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins).
  14. Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time.
  15. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter.
  16. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.
  17. Assembly: Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides.
  18. Decorate with reserved nuts.
Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch. Finely ground cashews are best for folding into meringue. Coarsely ground cashews are best for decoration of finished cake.


Stuffed: Oranges

SAM 4909 Edited Stuffed: Oranges

Cake baked in an orange rind is something I wanted to try since the beginning of the Stuffed series.  I first saw cakes baked in oranges while perusing The Cupcake Blog, an idea shared at Beyond A Garden, and I finally took a chance on baking them myself.

I had a tough time deciding just what cake to make.  Keep it simple with yellow?  Maybe chocolate like those delicious Terry’s chocolate oranges that appear this time of year.  Or cranberry-orange?

SAM 4901 Edited e1322271096582 Stuffed: Oranges

I decided on cranberry-orange. I thought the flavor would be a great way to use up a few spoonfuls of leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving and provide the opportunity to try a cranberry sauce cake recipe.  As you can tell from the pictures of chocolate cake, something went wrong with the cranberry-orange.

Do you know cranberry sauce, when added to cake batter, turns gray?  Once baked, it yellows out a bit, but the cake still doesn’t look all that appetizing.  Fortunately, I figured this process would be an experiment, so I was prepared to try again.  I added a bit of red food coloring to the batter for the second cake.  It looked better, but I was disappointed with the marks my cupcake pan was leaving on the orange peels.


Slightly frustrated, I moved on to chocolate because chocolate simply makes everything better. I baked the first cupcake on a cookie sheet to get away from the unsightly burn marks.  It held its shape, but the bottom flattened out a bit.

Still trying, I eventually found stuffing the orange rinds all the way into the well of the cupcake pan, instead of sitting them on top, did the trick.  The orange rinds that did not quite fit eventually fell down into the well during the baking process.  I can’t guarantee this will always be the case, but I say chalk any burn marks on the rinds up to character and carry on.

SAM 4908 Edited e1322271302945 Stuffed: Oranges

Wondering about the best way to hollow out the orange?  I cut into the white edge of the rind and then pulled the fruit out.  Sometimes this was easy and sometimes it was difficult, but eventually I ended up with hollowed orange peels to stuff full of delicious cake.  Beyond A Garden has really nice pictures of the entire process.

The chocolate cake seemed to have a bit of orange flavor baked into it, and it certainly smelled delicious.  I am concerned a lighter cake might turn slightly bitter from being baked in the orange peel, but I can’t say for sure.  What I can say for sure it these were fun little cakes to bake, and I hope you have an opportunity to try them.  Enjoy!

SAM 4902 Edited Stuffed: Oranges

Author’s note: The final edition of this year’s Stuffed series was posted one day earlier than originally announced due to regularly scheduled Daring Bakers’ programing on the 27th.  Apologies!

Chocolate Cake in Stuffed Oranges
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 oz baking chocolate
  • 1¼ cups self-rising flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the eggs.
  2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, about one minute.
  3. Pour the melted chocolate into the butter, sugar and egg mixture and mix until combined.
  4. Slowly mix in the flour and cocoa powder until incorporated. Batter will be thick.
  5. Scoop the batter into half of a hollowed orange rind that is sitting int the well of a muffin pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.