If we were having Thanksgiving dinner together, what would you share among things you’re grateful for this year? Is it your health, career or maybe relationships?
For the longest time I heard about the power of gratitude, but only recently I have experienced its magnitude in a real life. When I stop for a second to take things for granted and make an effort to express thankfulness, oh boy — in these moments I feel like someone turned the light switcher ON! Practicing photography comes easier, arguing with Dima stops to make sense, friends surprise with the warmest Birthday wishes, energy is bursting…
Basically LIFE is flowing like a river and there’s no better feeling than this in the world!
And this year I’m grateful for:
- all the travels we made — near and far, they taught me that sometimes no plan is the best plan;
- all the books I read — catching and the ones I could barely get through, they taught me “everything in life is figureoutable”;
- all the people I met — like-minded and with a different points of view, they taught me the importance of compassion;
- all the experiences I had — pleasant and not, they taught me it’s the only way to grow;
- all the food I ate — at home and out, it taught me… just how much I like to eat :).
Take this dessert, what not to love about it?! Two layers of moist, strongly pronounced but yet delicate pumpkin cake. A layer of gooey orange caramel. And a thin coat of dark chocolate to marry them all.
Ah… did I mention pieces of pecans all over the glaze? Well, now you know 😉
Please don’t let the length of instructions intimidate you. On day one make caramel, then give yourself a good rest. Next day in the morning bake pumpkin cake and reward your hard work with a cup of green tea. Then prepare the glaze and you’ll have time to chill while it’s cooling off. Finally, make the last effort to assemble desserts. But before doing that — call your closest friends and invite them over for the best dessert YOU MADE YOURSELF!
For the pumpkin layer:
185 g flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or your mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cardamon)
185 pumpkin puree
45 g ricotta cheese
125 g butter, at room temperature
180 g brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F. Line 9*13in baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice and mix everything together. In a separate bowl combine pumpkin puree with ricotta cheese, set aside.
In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment place soft butter and brown sugar. Beat on low speed for 2-3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium and cream until fluffy, for about 7 minutes.
In a small bowl whisk the eggs and vanilla extract. Add eggs mixture to a mixer bowl in 4 increments, mixing well after each addition (this will help to create a nice emulsion). Add pumpkin puree with ricotta and mix again. Stop the mixer and scrap sides of the bowl using rubber spatula.
Add all dry ingredients at once and mix on low speed just to incorporate them to the batter. Scrap the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure no dry ingredients left at the bottom.
Transfer the batter to the pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula or spoon. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry and clean. Remove the cake from the oven and transfer it (still in the pan) to a wire rack. Let cool completely before removing.
For the orange caramel:
65 g orange juice
25 g heavy cream
75 g sugar
20 g corn syrup
100 g salted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp orange liquor (optional)
In separate bowls heat orange juice and heavy cream, keep them hot.
In a heavy bottomed pan combine sugar and corn syrup and place it over medium heat. Cook occasionally swirling the pan until sugars become deep amber in color. Add warm orange juice and heavy cream and cook stirring with a rubber spatula until all ingredients come together and caramel becomes a bit thicker.
Off the heat, add pieces of salted butter and orange liquor and emulsify using an immersion blender. Transfer the caramel to a shallow bowl and let it cool.
For the chocolate glaze:
175 g dark chocolate
50 g canola oil
75 g pecans, finely chopped
Finely chop dark chocolate and place it in a clean bowl. Microwave chocolate using short 5-7 seconds intervals and stirring in between.
Once the chocolate is melted, add canola oil and blend well using an immersion blender. Add chopped pecans and mix everything together using a rubber spatula. Let the glaze cool for a bit.
To assemble the bars:
Invert the pumpkin cake to a working surface and peel off the parchment paper. Cut the cake in half widthwise.
Using an offset spatula or a spoon transfer orange caramel to one piece of the cake and spread it in a nice thick layer. Place the other half of the cake on top and slightly press with your fingers. Cut the cake in half lengthwise and then slice it 3 times so you end up with 8 rectangular bars.
Now to the fun part! Insert 2 toothpicks to the bottom of one bar. Dip the bar in the chocolate glaze so all the sides except for the bottom are coated. Carefully turn the bar, remove the toothpicks and place the bar to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining bars.
Place the rack to a fridge until the chocolate hardens. Enjoy straight from the fridge or at room temperature.