I will find pretty much any excuse to bake some sort of tasty dessert item. Wednesday's Halloween gathering was the perfect reason to break out the mixer and pre-heat the oven.
Originally, I was thinking cupcakes. They're fairly easy, there's an endless variety of recipes, and most people love them. So I went searching for a pumpkin cupcake recipe with some sort of cream cheese based frosting. I had a cupcake vision in my head, and it would be decorated with candy corn.
A google search for "pumpkin cupcakes" came back with a slew of results. I narrowed it down to a Martha recipe and a recipe from the southern cooking (pumpkin cupcakes don't seem particularly southern to me, but okay) section of about.com. Both were very similar but I decided on the Martha recipe due to the addition of allspice. I thought it might add an extra bit of spice to the cupcakes.
I can't actually tell you if the allspice made a difference, because at the last minute I found something else. I just happened to open an e-mail from All Recipes (I've been subscribed for ages and almost never read it), and found the Great Pumpkin Dessert. Not only did it sound easy, it sounded delicious, and it would require very few dishes and utensils. Also, the recipe has 143 reviews and 4 and a half stars. Sounds like a winner to me!
I made one of the variations of the recipe and used spice cake mix instead of yellow cake and substituted cinnamon for the pumpkin pie spice. When putting this dessert together, I had my doubts. You mix all the wet ingredients together (which is pretty similar to pumpkin pie filling) and pour them into the pan. You then sprinkle the entire box of cake mix over this (which is an awful lot of cake mix), drizzle with butter, top with nuts, and pop it in the oven.
It smelled delicious while it was in the oven (for over an hour), and it looked pretty good once it came out. There was one little section where it looked like the cake mix wasn't absorbed into the pumpkin mixture, but there wasn't much I could do about it at that point. The important thing was that it tasted good.
The end product is sort of like a cross between a pie and a crumble. The bottom layer was just like pumpkin pie filling, and the top layer was less like cake and more like a crisp topping. It had absorbed some of the liquid from the bottom layer and had the drizzled butter on the very top to give it a little crunch.
Everyone tried some, and while people did like it, I didn't feel like it got rave reviews. However, the next night S was trying to find excuses to come over so he could have some more of the "pumpkin dessert thing". Which, if you ask me, is a good enough reason for me to hang on to the recipe and maybe give it another try*.
* I think next time I might use less cake mix (though I'm not sure what else I'd do with half a box of cake mix), and perhaps more butter.