High Country Baking: Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Mini Bundts are fun, easy Halloween treat
High Country Baking
High altitudes make cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Which is your favorite? That’s what I asked testers who sampled two variations of these pumpkin baby cakes I plan to serve on Halloween. Because the taste of pumpkin is mild, I wanted to heighten the cake’s flavor with some additional ingredients. So, I used the same batter for both variations, adding nuts and crystallized ginger to half of it and chocolate chips to the other half before baking the cakes. The testers found both versions to be moist, tender and pleasantly light in texture, but strongly preferred the chocolate chip version. They explained that the hit of chocolate took the cake from nice to yummy and predicted that even folks who aren’t fans of pumpkin would like it.
Though the ingredients list is long, the batter comes together quickly and easily, requiring just two bowls and a few utensils. Once the ingredients are assembled, it’s in the oven in about 10 minutes. If you follow the directions, little can go wrong — just be sure to use canned pumpkin puree rather than pumpkin pie filling.
Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Mini Bundts
- Adjusted for altitudes of 7,800 feet and above
- Make in a non-stick mini cake pan with six 6-ounce cups
- Makes six baby cakes
- ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup mini chocolate chips
- Scant ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/16 teaspoon baking soda
- Generous 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 ¼ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup packed commercial pumpkin puree, preferably Libby’s
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Make the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Generously grease all the cups in your pan with a baking spray that contains flour. Spread the spray with a paper towel, getting it into all the cups’ curves and crevasses. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, chocolate chips, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl and stir/whisk to combine thoroughly. Make sure all the chips are fully covered with flour and distributed evenly (this will help prevent the chips from sinking to the bottom of the pan while the cakes bake).
- Add the two sugars and canola oil to another mixing bowl and whisk or beat with an electric mixer until well combined. Scrape the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk/beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and the pumpkin puree and whisk/beat until blended. Add the flour mixture and stir gently until none of the dry ingredients are visible and a batter forms; don’t overmix!
- Fill each of the cups in your pan 2/3 of the way to the top. Rap the pan on a counter to release any air bubbles and bake until the cakes have risen, the tops are set, and a toothpick inserted in the middle of one comes out clean, from 18-22 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, wait about 7 minutes, invert the pan onto a rack, rap it gently so the little cakes fall out of the pan, set them upright and let them cool completely.
- Glaze the cakes: Finely chop the chocolate and place it in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a microwave-safe bowl or one-cup measure in a microwave oven at a low temperature until very hot, just short of boiling. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate, cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for 3-5 minutes while the chocolate melts. Stir gently until it’s smooth and shiny; try not to make air bubbles. Let it thicken slightly, then spoon a generous tablespoon onto the center of each cooled cake, swirling it into a circle. Let the glaze set before serving. Store the baby cakes, covered, in a cool spot or in the ‘fridge.
Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). She became a full-time Frisco resident in 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at email@example.com.
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Looking to do a long hike this fall? Try the Fancy Pass-Missouri Lakes Loop in the Holy Cross Wilderness.