October 31, 2010

On Halloween, Boxed Mix Plays Dress Up

It was a perfect Fall day on Saturday. M and I spent it watching crew races on the river, biking through crunchy fallen leaves, and carving a spooky face into our Jack-o-Lantern. Late in the day we decided that the only thing that would make the day more perfect would be to invite our friends over for hot cider with brown honey rum and whipped cream. 

It was a great idea, but I would need some snacks in a flash. I turned to my best boxed friend, which only appears once a year: Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread Mix. When it does grace the shelves with its wonderful orange boxes stacked high, I know they'll sell out in a flash so I always buy three. You never know when you'll need to be ready with a quick, festive snack during the holiday season. This bread mix, with its rich molasses undertones and deep pumpkin flavor spiked with spices, is absolutely my favorite.  

Instead of a loaf pan, I used a brownie pan to bake the pumpkin bread so that I could cut dessert-style squares. I also used 1/2 cup of unsweetened apple sauce instead of the 1/2 cup of canola oil the mix called for. This cut down a bit on the unhealthy fats. 

When the bread came out of the oven piping hot, I used a toothpick to poke lots of small, deep holes all over. Then I poured  a spiced sugar glaze over the top and sides of the pan while it was still warm, which set on the top but also traveled down the holes and absorbed slightly throughout  the loaf. This little trick is what makes those dark, deliciously moist marbles inside every single bite. After cooling the pan completely, I cut big, tall squares and could barely contain myself from eating the entire pan on the spot... When everyone showed up in their costumes and the festivities started, I could say I had had a day that was all fun and almost no effort!

Pumpkin Sugar Glaze: 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixed in a small bowl with 1 t. pumpkin pie spice and 1 t. pure vanilla extract. Mix with 1 T. of milk at a time until the glaze has reached your desired consistency.

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