Pumpkin Praline Crunch Dessert and More

These squash were begging me to take their pictures–on their knees, almost–and I discovered that, warts and all, squash are very photogenic. They are from the garden of my sister Janet, who has a green and orange thumb!

There is something noble about the smallest bird. No one pays them any attention, except God, but they are full of spirit. Love them.

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Pumpkin Praline Crunch Dessert

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I’m sharing this dessert now because it’s so perfect for the holidays, and you will sleep better in the coming weeks with this recipe in your pocket. It has the convenience of being made with a cake mix, but the delicious flavor of a homemade dessert. The cake mix somehow disappears, leaving a buttery, crunchy, toasty topping above, and a silken pumpkin custard below. It cuts beautifully. (Not so easy to see this in the above photo!) Here is the recipe.

Pumpkin Praline Crunch

IMG_40091 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (see note)
1 pkg. Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
3/4 cup butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of a 13 x 9″ pan with shortening.

Stir pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar and spice until completely smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle cake mix (dry) over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with pecans. Pour or spoon melted butter evenly over top.

Bake uncovered 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in center of dessert comes out clean. Cool completely (about 1 hour 30 minutes) before cutting.

Baking notes: Be sure to use canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix. I don’t like buying pumpkin pie spice, because I rarely use it more than once a year. So I mixed together the following, and it was perfect: 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. You could make up your own mixture, depending on what you have on hand. I purchased chopped walnuts for this, but chopped them up a bit finer for better appearance. Be sure not to use ground nuts. Evaporated milk has been cooked down and is not the same as regular milk. It adds richness and body to the custard. The original recipe comes from Betty Crocker SuperMoist Cake Mix Recipes. I decreased the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4 cup.

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