Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Darden Restaurant Group's Pumpkin Dessert Challenge...Featuring Pumpkin Spice Bundt with Maple-Pecan Glaze

October is National Pumpkin Month, and Darden Restaurant Group is celebrating with a trio of delicious pumpkin desserts at three of their restaurants. They challenged me to taste each of these featured desserts, then create a pumpkin dessert of my own that's inspired by one of their creations I'm always up for a fun challenge, so I jumped in with both feet...and a fork! Available for a limited time only, these fabulous desserts include:
·     LongHorn Steakhouse’s Pumpkin Spice Lava Cake. Warm pumpkin spice cake is filled with a smooth cream cheese icing and drizzled with Maker’s Mark® bourbon-caramel sauce and candied pecans. This cake is served warm, allowing the cream cheese icing to act like warm lava. This cake is on the rich side, making it ideal to share with that special someone.

·      Red Lobster’s Pumpkin Pie in a Jar. This dessert takes a classic Fall dessert and presents it in a fun, modern way! This dessert features layered pumpkin and cream cheese mousse with a graham-cracker crust, then tops it with sugared pecans. This parfait tastes features all my favorite pumpkin pie flavors, then takes it over the top with the luscious cream cheese mousse.

·      Olive Garden’s Pumpkin Cheesecake. Rich and creamy pumpkin cheesecake is topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce and ginger cookie crumbles. This cheesecake is sinfully good, and the ginger cookie crumbles provide a nice texture contrast to the creamy, spicy cheesecake.
I chose the Pumpkin Spice Lava Cake as my dessert inspiration and created a comforting Pumpkin Spice Bundt with Maple Pecan Glaze. I love bundt cakes because they're so versatile -- casual, but still nice enough to serve to company. My bundt cake features warm Fall spices and pumpkin. The cake is topped with a creamy maple glaze and chopped pecans.
A slice of this bundt cake goes perfectly with a cup of coffee for an indulgent breakfast treat...or with a cup of chai tea for an after-dinner dessert. To make the preparation as easy as possible, I used a boxed spice cake mix. Sometimes I just don't feel like measuring dry ingredients, so I always keep a box cake mix or two in my cupboard. I decided to throw a bit of a curve ball...the secret ingredients to the cake's texture and flavor are instant butterscotch pudding and pumpkin spice coffee creamer.

Pumpkin Spice Bundt with Maple-Pecan Glaze
adapted from Taste of Home
  • 1 box spice cake mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin spice coffee creamer [NOTE: I used Bailey's Coffee Creamer]
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 package instant butterscotch pudding
  • 1 tsp. Vietnamese high-oil cinnamon
  • For the glaze: 3 tbs. butter, 3 tbs. pure maple syrup, 1/4 cup pumpkin spice coffee creamer, and 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecan pieces
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 and spray a Bundt pan with Baker's Joy OR generously butter and flour the pan. Add the first six ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. 
Step 2: Carefully spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Tap on the countertop to remove any air bubbles and place on a cookie sheet in the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Test with a wooden skewer; the cake is done when the skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip the Bundt onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. 
Step 3: While the cake cools make the glaze. Add the butter and maple syrup to a microwave safe measure cup. Heat for 2 minutes so the mixture reaches a full rolling boil. Remove from the microwave and add the coffee creamer. Whisk to combine and add the powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Let the glaze cool for 10 minutes, then pour it over the cake. Top with the chopped pecans and cut into thick slices.
This is my kind of cake: easy to make, moist and full of flavor. I love the way the maple and pecans taste with the warm spices and pumpkin in the cake. This would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table...or just because!  I hope that my bundt cake and Darden's pumpkin desserts will inspire you to get creative with pumpkin in your own kitchen this Fall!

Disclosure: Darden Restaurant Group provided me with a gift card to purchase the three pumpkin desserts they are serving in their restaurants this Fall. I received no further compensation, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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