Saturday, September 24, 2011

Praline Pumpkin Dessert

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? – March 17, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published by Betty Crocker on Monday, November 17, 2008 via e-mail

I don’t always eat healthy food.  In fact, I’d say that I only eat healthy about 50% of the time.  I guess I’m confessing all of this to you because I have a stockpile of desserts just like this one.  Sometimes I try to slim them down a little and sometimes I don’t.

This is one of those times that I don’t (well for the most part).

I was attracted to this recipe because I LOVE pumpkin desserts and a pumpkin crumble was impossible for me to pass up.  It also didn’t seem like a lot of work, so I was sold.

© You Want Me to Cook?
Praline Pumpkin Dessert
It doesn’t look bad.  In fact, if you didn’t have another picture to compare it to, you’d think it looked great.  My problem is that it has the appearance of pecan pie instead of pumpkin.  Also, my square doesn’t have the same amount of height as the one from Betty Crocker.  I don’t know if I did something wrong or if Betty’s square was altered in some way.

© Betty Crocker
See what I mean about my dessert looking like pecan pie compared to this picture?  It is depressing me.  Their dessert looks light and fluffy.  I swear you can taste the pumpkin just by looking at it.

Betty Crocker’s picture is also a video.  It is interesting to watch (if you like cooking shows that is) but not really informative.  They don’t give details or measurements, it is more just them mixing and pouring.  No offense Betty, I could do that without help.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessNADA – all you need is a couple of bowls for mixing and a pan to bake it in.  There isn’t any prep work either so it’s just beat, pour and crumble.

Start-to-Finish Time: AROUND TWO HOURS – and out of this two hours, only 15 minutes (approximately) is hands-on.

Prep Work: ALL FINGERS STILL HERE – This is if you buy pre-chopped nuts.  Of course, even if you don’t have pre-chopped nuts, it’s pretty easy prep especially if you have a mini-chop of some sort.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – let’s just say that the video on Betty Crocker’s web site has all the details and techniques in about 90 seconds.  Your kids could make this dessert if you wanted.

OverallYUMMY – it was easy and tasty and perfect for a last minute Thanksgiving dessert.  For just the two of us, it was a little much, but I could see this disappearing at a party very quickly.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Spark Recipes.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Servings: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Obviously, if you cut it in 12 squares, you’re going to get 12 servings.  The question is, would they be decent size servings or not.  Basically they are 3x3” squares, which is a nice treat, but not huge either.  That being said, I’m not sure I always shoot for “huge” when I am eating dessert.

My timing is almost dead on to their timing.  Again, I’m a little confused by their math (20 minutes prep time + 60 minutes bake time + 30 minutes rest time = 1 hour 50 minutes), but it really doesn’t matter when looking at the big picture.  Here is the timing of my recipe:
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Assemble Dessert: 9 minutes
  • Bake Time: 60 minutes
  • Rest Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 44 minutes
Whoa baby!  Look at me!  Coming in a whole minute under the recipe's time.

Nutritional Information
  • Calories 510
  • Total Fat 27g (Saturated Fat 10g)
  • Cholesterol 90mg
  • Sodium 410mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 60g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Sugars 42g
  • Protein 6g
This is pretty typical for a dessert… and a dessert that isn’t from a health magazine.  I always get nervous when I look at the nutritional information for desserts.  In today’s health-conscious society, sometimes recipe writers will try to make their recipes seem a little better than they actually are.  Just to make sure they weren’t down-playing any unhealthy numbers, I plugged the dish into the Spark Database to check its accuracy and here are the numbers:
  • Calories 518.1
  • Total Fat 29.5g (Saturated Fat 11.9g)
  • Cholesterol 88.7mg
  • Sodium 338.8mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 60.6g
  • Fiber 2.1g
  • Sugar 41.4g
  • Protein 7.6g
Bravo Betty Crocker!  You were right on target.  Yeah, my figures were slightly higher in some of the bad stuff, but I frequently get different numbers when running them through a different calculator.  As long as they are relatively close, you know it’s accurate.

Also, I based the numbers on what products I used when given options.  For example, I used walnuts instead of pecans and butter instead of margarine.  Also, I estimated a tablespoon of whipped cream per square and a 1/12 of a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice for sprinkling (there were no measurements given for dressing the dessert).  These things could also make slight variances in the nutritional information as seen.

One thing… my calculations show lower sodium – yay!!!

I made slight changes so I ran my numbers through the Nutritional Database as well.  Here are my numbers:
  • Calories 500.8
  • Total Fat 27.2g (Saturated Fat 10.5g)
  • Cholesterol 80.9mg
  • Sodium 342.1mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 61.1g
  • Fiber 2.1g
  • Sugar 41.9g
  • Protein 7.9g
I used generic yellow cake mix, but I kept Betty Crocker numbers since I didn’t write all the nutritional information down before I threw the box away.  My numbers went down slightly (except for the sodium).  Not a lot, but any little bit helps.

On a happy note - this recipe is a great supplier of Vitamin A which is important for eye function and repair/growth of vital tissues.

Changes denoted by red text
© You Want Me to Cook?
Praline Pumpkin Dessert
Ingredients - dry
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (12 oz) fat-free evaporated milk
3 eggs – lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix or spice cake mix
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
Whipped cream, if desired
Additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired
Cooking Spray
Ingredient Notes:

  • There was a pumpkin shortage and you couldn’t find pumpkin for a long time.  Now, I can find pumpkin, but only the big cans.  So I measured my 15 ounces from a 29 ounce can on a kitchen scale.
  • Don’t use pumpkin pie mix (the ingredients say this too, but I thought I’d reiterate) because it contains extra sugar (you don’t want that) and spices.  Add your spices to it and it can overpower your dessert very quickly.
Fat-Free Evaporated Milk – It eliminates all the fat and cholesterol from the milk numbers and only has half the calories.  Not a lot, but small changes can add up.

Eggs – I have issues adding whole eggs to a batter.  I need to break up the yolks a little bit so I know they’ll mix well.  That’s why I added the instruction to lightly beat them.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • You can make your own by using 4 parts cinnamon + 2 parts ginger + 1 part allspice + 1 part nutmeg.  Of course, this technique only is useful if you already have those spices.  If you don’t have one of the ones listed above… just buy the pumpkin pie spice because you’re going to spend the same amount.  If push comes to shove, you can use only cinnamon if that’s all you have in your spice rack and simply don’t want to buy another spice.
  • In terms of the additional spice, I used maybe a teaspoon total for the entire dessert.
Yellow Cake Mix – I went with the yellow cake mix instead of the spice.  I just have a love of yellow cake mix… it had nothing to do with the taste of spiced cake.  Also, I used a generic version that I picked up from Aldi.

  • I went with walnuts because that is what I had in my pantry.  I didn’t feel the need to buy more nuts when I have some going bad in my refrigerator.  The ones I had were pre-chopped which saved me the only prep work I would have to do for this recipe.
  • If you go with pecans – they aren’t as crunchy or flavorful as walnuts, but they are sweeter.
Butter – I went with butter because (a) that’s what I had on hand and (b) I hate margarine.  I don’t know why.  I just really dislike it.  Butter simply has a better flavor and makes crispier crusts/crumbles.  Of course, it’s got cholesterol, but I could live with that.

Whipped Cream – I went with canned and used about a tablespoon per piece.

Cooking Spray – the recipe tells you to grease a pan and the easiest (and cheapest) way I know to do this is with cooking spray.  Of course, you can use shortening or butter if you like

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Praline Pumpkin Dessert
Glass measuring cup
13x9” pan
Medium bowl
Small bowl

Equipment Notes:
Mini-Chop – I have this listed in case you need to chop the pecans/walnuts.  You can use a manual one or an electric one.

Glass Measuring cup – since you have to drizzle the butter, I wanted to melt it in something that had a handle and a spout. 

13x9” Pan – pans are better for baked goods (it helps them brown) but you can use glass if that’s all you have.  Just remember to watch for burning and know that it may not brown as fast.

Whisk – the recipe said to use a wire whisk, but I have a plastic one.  I decided to give it a try and it worked fine.

(1)  Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan).  Grease or spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan.

My pan is on the dark-side, but I kept it at 350°F.  I also watched it very carefully.

(2)  Mix the sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl

(3)  In medium bowl, beat pumpkin, milk, eggs.

(4) Add the sugar spice mixture and beat with the whisk until smooth. Pour into pan.

(5)  Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture.

(6)  Sprinkle with walnuts.

(7)  Pour melted butter evenly over top.

(8)  Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes.

I usually use a cake tester to test cakes, cupcakes, etc… testing with a knife, as the recipe states, is a lot difference than testing with a toothpick.  I decided to follow the instructions and go with the knife.

(9)  To serve, cut dessert into 4 rows by 3 rows. Serve warm or chilled with dollop of whipped cream sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice. Store covered in refrigerator.

When I was serving the dessert, I used about a tablespoon of whipped cream & a light dusting of spice.  I didn’t want to go overboard!

I thought this dessert was good, but it didn’t hold together.  I don’t know if I overcooked it or if I used the wrong pan.  However, it wasn’t dry either.  Who knows, baking is a hit or miss for me a lot of the time.  I can’t really call this a miss though.  If I were going to change anything, I would serve it as a crumble under ice cream.  Then it wouldn’t matter if it falls apart or not.

Oh who am I kidding, it didn’t matter if it fell apart – with or without ice cream.  It was still really tasty.

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