Pumpkin blondies notwithstanding, this was the first pumpkin cake of the season, made on a whim after a healthy vegetarian tofu dinner and for no occasion in particular, although we did end up taking the remaining third of it (after putting away 2/3 ourselves in 24 hours. yep. that’s right.) to my boyfriend’s parents’ house for pre-Yom Kippur dinner last night. I have two go-to pumpkin cake recipes as holdovers from last fall: this one and the one inscribed on the back of the Trader’s Joe’s Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix box, doctored with extra spices and TJ’s pumpkin butter. This pumpkin cake started with the Trader Joe’s box, but instead of two eggs, oil and water, I added a whole can of pumpkin, about a cup of milk, and tons of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Then I made streusel topping, enough for a very generous layer on top of the batter, with crumbled graham crackers, butter, brown sugar and more cinnamon.
I still had some leftover butterscotch chips from the blondies, and had been thinking about mixing them into the batter when my boyfriend, whose cooking advice generally comes from what-seems-like-it-might-work rather than experience, suggested making butterscotch sauce to go with the cake. “Put some butter in it, too!” he directed, “and scotch!” So I’m pouring a half-shot of Johnnie Walker Black Label into the mixture of melted butterscotch chips and milk I’m stirring in a saucepan on the stove when it occurs to me to ask. “Hey, is there actually scotch in butterscotch?”
“No idea,” he says. (turns out butterscotch is traditionally the alchemy of butter and brown sugar. According to Wikipedia, “Food historians have several theories regarding the name and origin of this confectionery, but none are conclusive. One explanation is the meaning “to cut or score” for the word “scotch”, as the confection must be cut into pieces, or “scotched”, before hardening. It is also possible that the “scotch” part of its name was derived from the word “scorch”.)
Here’s my super professional chef pro tip: it is definitely a really good idea to assume flavors go together if you think an ingredient is part of the name for another ingredient. Definitely always do this. Or maybe just with anything and scotch, because this butterscotch sauce was out of this world and I literally was drinking it by the spoonful.