Pumpkin Tarts (Mini Pumpkin Pies)

Pumpkin Tarts

Pumpkin Tarts with Cinnamon-Spiced Whipped Cream

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends and delighted in moist turkey, highly-caloric sides, and rich desserts.

With the past several weeks devoted to grading essays, preparing for a craft party, and baking for Thanksgiving, I finally have time to write a post. Yay!

Although I know I’m late to the Pumpkin Recipe Food Blogger Posting season, which runs from October 1st through Thanksgiving, I just have to share about these Pumpkin Tarts. Not only do these mini pies taste creamy and have an ever-so-slightly-tangy crust, but they have a lovely dollop of cinnamon-and-nutmeg-spiced whipped cream.

But I really want to share these today to tell you my tale of woe.

After slaving away at making the dough, the filling, and patiently waiting while they baked, the taste of the warm pumpkin tarts didn’t thrill me.

The following morning, though, after a stint in the fridge, I took another taste test. Much better, worthy now of taking to the holiday extravaganza.

Then the cinnamon whipped cream piped atop with a star tip made them look so adorable. Great taste + adorable looks = winner winner winner!!!

Fast forward to after-dinner-let’s-bring-on-the-dessert time.

Uh oh.

Puzzlement.

The mini pumpkin tarts had vanished. I searched high and low. I searched my brain trying to remember if I had piled the tarts on the kitchen counter along with the other zillion desserts.

After ages of wandering in circles looking for them and wracking my brain, I finally remembered that after piping on those adorable little puffs of whipped cream, I had placed the container back in the fridge.

And totally forgot to take them out before leaving!!!!!!!

Utter disappointment that I didn’t get to share these.

But now I get to eat them all!!!!

And they taste mighty delightful for both breakfast and lunch.

So, here are a few notes about the recipe:

  • I used the cream cheese dough from the Pecan Tarts recipe. Easy to work with. Can be rolled into balls and left in the muffin tins made a day or two in advance.
  • The pumpkin filling takes slightly more labor than the usual recipe for pumpkin pie but bakes into the silkiest, creamiest pumpkin pie. Totally worth it. Can also be made a day or two ahead of time, which then allows for the flavors to marry and mingle.
  • Cinnamon-spiced whipped cream. Takes this over the top. Don’t skip it!
Pumpkin Tarts

Pumpkin Tarts

Pumpkin Tarts (Mini Pumpkin Pies)

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Yield: 6 dozen tarts

INGREDIENTS

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 3 1/3 cups flour (14 ounces)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of yams in syrup, drained
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (grade B used for cooking/baking: see Huffington Post info)
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt

Cinnamon-Spiced Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch (if you want to stabilize the whipped cream, which allows it to last longer, maintain its shape, and not separate after a day)

DIRECTIONS

Cream Cheese Pastry Dough

  1. Allow cream cheese and butter to soften to room temperature. To speed this process, cut cream cheese and butter into small chunks.
  2. Blend cream cheese and butter (use wooden spoon, pastry blender, or food processor).
  3. Sift then measure flour; add salt and whisk to blend. Stir into cream cheese and butter until flour is absorbed.
  4. Form 1-inch balls (I used my small cookie dough scoop) and place into ungreased muffin tins. Chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove pastry from refrigerator. Form shells by using tart tamper: Dip tamper into flour to prevent it from sticking to dough. Press tamper into the dough ball in each muffin well until the dough rises up the sides and to the top. If you don’t have a tamper, press dough with thumb around the edges and bottom until muffin well is evenly covered. Place tart shells back in refrigerator until ready to use. At this point, you can cover them tightly with plastic wrap and store in fridge for a couple of days.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together heavy cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine pumpkin purée, drained yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; bring to a sputtering simmer. Continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly and mashing yams, until thick and shiny. (I used my immersion blender to mash the yams.)
  3. Remove saucepan from heat; whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. To remove any lumps and create a silky-smooth mixture, run it through a fine-meshed sieve. At this point, you can store filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or you can use immediately. If not using immediately, rewarm the mixture before filling tart shells.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Fill tart shells to the top. Carefully transfer muffin pan to preheated oven. Bake tarts for 30 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to wire rack and allow to cool completely. Chill in refrigerator overnight.

Cinnamon-Spiced Whipped Cream

  1. Using an electric or stand mixer, mix heavy cream until soft peaks form. Start at low speed and increase speed to medium-high as cream begins to thicken.
  2. When cream thickens enough to form soft peaks when you raise the beaters, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg (and cornstarch if you want to stabilize the whipped cream). Beat until mixture thickens enough to maintain peaks, which shouldn’t take but a few seconds more of beating.
  3. Either dollop the whipped cream onto the tarts that have chilled overnight, or pipe onto tarts using star tip.

adapted from the following SOURCES:

What’s Cooking in My Kitchen (cakes, cookies, cupcakes, mini pies, and ice cream)

With potlucks, work luncheons, and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I thought I had best get busy baking up some goodies ahead of time, most of them stocked in the freezer.

Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

I have Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan cookie dough in the freezer, ready for baking. These cookies receive the most rave reactions every time I share them.

Pecan Tassies

Pecan Tassies (mini pecan pies)

Pecan Tassies, bite-sized pecan pies, will grace a potluck at the gym. These freeze well in an airtight container, but that means I can easily sneak a tassie or two each night. I hope they last until the potluck later this week!! By the way, this time I added about 5 chocolate chips to the bottom of each crust before adding the filling. Extra yum!

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing

A scrumptious Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing, sans icing but tightly enveloped in plastic wrap and housed in the freezer, awaits Thanksgiving festivities, returning for a repeat performance after its highly successful debut last year.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

I baked Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes recently, falling in love with their espresso and pumpkin combo. Truth be told, it’s the frosting that stole my heart. I knew these would grace the table at the next salad club lunch at work, taking place this week.

Although these aren’t stocked in the freezer, I just have to share about these Apple Fritters I made recently for a book club meeting. Oh my goodness, this recipe makes the heavens sing. Check out Nicole’s post at Galley Gourmet for pics and recipe. I modified her recipe slightly, using grated apples rather than diced. I made it both ways, actually, and prefer the grated version. These are best eaten shortly after frying.

Finally, I tried my hand yet again at caramels, only to add another tale to my list of caramel woes. However, this time the caramels almost set properly. They are a bit too soft and every time I cut them, they morph back into one large blob after a few minutes. Sigh…

Since the Apple Cider Caramels still tasted yummy despite their blobby status, I decided to give the Browned Butter Caramel Stuffed Cookies a try and rescue the caramel. Failure. Sort of. I must have made the cookie balls too small and/or the caramel pieces too big; the caramel simply oozed out the bottoms of the cookies. Bummer because the browned butter cookies bake up outta-this-world-crazy-divinely-delicious and the apple cider caramel pairs perfectly with it.

As I held the tray of ruined cookies in my hand, about to toss them into the trash bin, I had a rescue idea flash into my brain: crumble the cookies and toss them into a batch of vanilla ice cream. So I did. Truthfully, I think it’s just a so-so combo, but my hubby loves it.

Vanilla Caramel Cookie Ice Cream

Vanilla Caramel Cookie Ice Cream

I tried another vanilla ice cream recipe for this, though, that hubby claims is better than his beloved Hagen Daaz. At Galley Gourmet, Nicole used the French Vanilla Ice Cream from David Liebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop, but she modified it by adding some corn syrup and vodka. It certainly does create a soft, creamy, rich, and easy-to-scoop ice cream.

Oh, and if you ever have a ruined cake, you can try a trifle for a rescue mission. I had to do that with a burnt chocolate bundt cake a couple years ago, but I successfully turned that disaster into Chocolate Berry Trifles. I got the idea from Michelle at Brown-Eyed Baker and her carrot cake disaster rescue: Carrot Cake Trifle.

Chocolate Berry Trifle

Chocolate Berry Trifle

With all this baking, I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite of the holidays because it’s all about family, friends, and food. And I look forward to making Turkey Tetrazzini again from the broth I’ll make from the leftover carcass and all the meat I’ll get from those bones. It ranks as one of the most delicious savory recipes, I think, to come out of my oven.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

What’s your favorite food at Thanksgiving? Try asking that at the dinner table. Not one person said turkey the year someone posed that question! My favorite: my mom’s sauerkraut. Or maybe Ladera’s stuffing.

Okay, only 11 more days until Turkey Day!! Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday filled with gratitude.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pardon my blogging hiatus. Lots of life interferences. First, I got buried under a pile of English essays to correct, promptly followed by a nasty cold that stressed me out because I needed to get ready for a trip to Cabo San Lucas for my brother’s wedding. Thankfully the cold eased up and we had a blast celebrating in Cabo. Upon my return, the cold monster reared its vicious phlegm again! Still dealing with that two weeks later as well as a persistent cough. And teaching all the while. With another stack of essays to arrive tomorrow.

Suffice it to say, my motivation has been stymied by work, fun in the sun, and illness.

In the meantime, I’ve had several new subscribers to the blog, which totally blows my mind considering I haven’t posted in several weeks. How did that happen? Welcome all! And I hope you find many recipes to enjoy from the site.

Despite all this craziness, I have managed to find my way into the kitchen, with these Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes stealing the show. Although I’ve never ordered a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, you can certainly taste the espresso flavor in this cupcake along with the pumpkin. Heck, with 4 1/2 teaspoons of espresso in the batter, you bet you can taste that strong coffee flavor! I think I might actually dial it down to 4 teaspoons next time, and I think I will also omit brushing liquid coffee on after they bake.

I accidentally put in 1 cup rather than 3/4 cup of pumpkin. Luckily, they baked up just fine. Ultra moist due to the pumpkin, actually.

But the true star? The whipped cream and cream cheese frosting. Oh. My. Goodness. I literally ate the leftover frosting with a spoon right outta the bowl. So freakin’ delightfully light and fluffy and just plain ol’ scrumptious. The recipe makes loads of frosting. If you pile it on high, you’ll use it up. If you prefer less frosting, I suggest cutting the frosting recipe in half.

Final word of advice on these: get them outta the house ASAP!!!! Their addictive quality makes them ultra dangerous to have around. Plus, it’s fun to share.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

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INGREDIENTS

Cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 tsp. espresso powder (creates a very strong flavor, so I’m going to use 4 tsp. next time)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee, for brushing the tops after baking (I’m going to omit this step next time because the espresso in the batter creates a very strong flavor)

Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Garnish Options

  • chocolate sprinkles, cinnamon, caramel sauce, chocolate shavings…

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
  3. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend pumpkin, both sugars, and the vegetable oil until completely combined.
  4. Blend in eggs one at a time.
  5. Add the flour in two batches, folding in with a rubber spatula until no flour pockets remain.
  6. Divide the batter between the baking cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to wire cooling rack.
  7. While cupcakes are still warm, use a thin skewer or the prongs on corn cob holders to poke holes into the cupcakes, then brush tops with the brewed coffee. Let each coat soak in before applying the next. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting them. (Since espresso creates a strong enough flavor, I’m going to omit the brushing of coffee next time I make these.)
  8. To make frosting: In a large bowl, use a mixer on medium speed and with whisk attachment to beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract; beat until smooth and completely combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the heavy cream, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, then increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form.
  9. Using a piping bag and an open or closed star tip, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Sprinkle with garnishes if desired. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. (Check out this blog post at Niner Bakes to learn about various piping tips.)

SOURCE: Brown-Eyed Baker, who adapted cupcakes from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures and frosting from allrecipes.com

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing

This cake looked so lovely when I first saw a picture of it on Chris’s The Cafe Sucre Farine blog (a delightful blog, by the way). I immediately saved it and knew I would make it for one of the Salad Club lunches at work (we have a salad club lunch every three weeks and everyone brings something; I always sign up for dessert so I can tackle my mega list of desserts-to-make).

Today I shared the cake with my coworkers…and they received it well–not a slice was left! I just might make it again for Thanksgiving or maybe Christmas…

I’ve always loved pound cake–so dense and moist and buttery. Add some pumpkin and it takes it to a festive level for the holidays. Even better, pour some caramel icing and you have now taken it to a heavenly level. Festive and heavenly–quite a winning combo.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing

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INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, unsalted & softened
  • 13.5 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • optional but flavorful: 3 tbsp. bourbon, cognac, or rum
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (add an additional 1/2 tsp. if skipping the alcohol)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature (let sit in warm water for 10 minutes to bring to room temp)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • optional: 4 ounces (1 cup) pecan halves, toasted and chopped

Note: I recommend mixing up extra of the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove spices and increasing the amount in the recipe. It calls for 4 5/8 tsp. total, but I would increase that by at least half to intensify the spicy, pumpkin flavor in the cake. I found it to be rather subtle.

Caramel Icing

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cups or 1 stick) butter
  • 5 tbsp. milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Generously spray a 10-12 cup tube pan with baking spray. Rub allover with a paper towel, then spray lightly one more time. (I used shortening and then dusted lightly with flour.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves.
  4. In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, bourbon, and vanilla.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  6. Gradually add the oil, beating until combined.
  7. Add the brown sugar. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well on medium-high speed after each addition.
  9. Reduce speed to low and add the pumpkin (if you add it while on high speed, the batter will splatter all over the kitchen counter, walls, floor, and yourself!).
  10. Slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture and mix until combined.
  11. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the batter, mixing just until combined.
  12. If using pecans, use a rubber spatula to fold them in at this point.
  13. Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth the top, and tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to settle the batter.
  14. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 45-55 minutes.
  15. Cook the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, removing the pan, and cool completely, at least 3 hours.

Caramel Icing (see finecooking.com for a slightly different glaze)

  1. Combine the sugar, butter, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat; add vanilla extract. (At this point, the icing will be the consistency of thick syrup.)
  3. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute.
  4. Add powdered sugar and beat again until smooth. If needed, add more milk to make an icing that can easily be drizzled.
  5. Set the cake on a wire rack over a rimmed, foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle icing over completely cooled cake, allowing to drip down the sides.

Notes:

  • Sprinkle icing with toasted walnuts or pecans, if desired. Or try the sugared, roasted nuts on the finecooking.com link below.
  • For best flavor and texture, the cake should be baked at least one day before serving. Store, un-iced, at room temperature for up to two days–just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
  • The cake can also be frozen, iced or un-iced, for 3-4 weeks. Flash freeze first (freeze, unwrapped, for 1-2 hours), then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. Return to freezer.

SOURCE: adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine who adapted from Fine Cooking

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Driving home from the movies yesterday afternoon, three days after Halloween, we passed the local pumpkin patch that had a sign out: “Pumpkins for Sale.”

I mentioned to hubby that I had seen recipes for making homemade pumpkin purée, but they called for sugar pumpkins. Not sure what those were and not having researched it yet, we didn’t stop.

However, I got to thinking that the owners of the pumpkin patch needed to get rid of those bins full of leftover pumpkins and the sale prices were probably a score, so upon arriving home, I quickly researched sugar pumpkins. Basically, they are smaller than the giant pumpkins people tend to use for jack-o-lanterns–6-8 inches in diameter. These baby pumpkins are more dense, less stringy, and sweeter than their larger siblings; hence, they make a flavorful roasted purée.

I hopped back into the car, drove the two miles to the pumpkin patch, and scored a big ol’ bucketful of baby pumpkins for $1 each. B.A.R.G.A.I.N. ! ! !

Puree is super duper easy peasy to make. Cut pumpkin in half. Scrape out seeds (and save ‘em to roast ‘em later…more on that in the next blog post). Roast in oven. Puree in food processor. Strain out water. Done.

See, told ya it was a cinch.

Yeah, I know it’s far easier to just buy a can of purée at the market, but I prefer to eliminate as many chemicals and preservatives from my life as I can. Plus, with each pumpkin at just $1, it ends up costing me quite a bit less than the cost of a can at the market (see pumpkin math below).

Now, gotta search through the recipe files for all those pumpkin desserts I’ve been bookmarking…

P.S. I took an evening walk around the neighborhood right after I drafted this post, and I counted 34 houses that had multiple uncarved pumpkins adorning their front porches. That’s A LOT of potential pumpkin purée. Let me tell ya, I was sorely tempted to start knocking on doors and offering to take those pumpkins off their hands in case their ultimate fate was going to be the garbage can. But alas, I couldn’t quite muster the courage for that :  )

Pumpkin Math (from Pennies on a Platter):

  • 1 pound fresh pumpkin = about 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin = 1 3/4 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 1 29-ounce can pumpkin = 3 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin

(I had 6 pumpkins ranging from 2-3 pounds each and paid only $6 for them. I ended up with about 16 cups of pumpkin purée. That would have been about 10 15-ounce cans at the market for $2.99 each–close to $30! Wow, this was a substantial savings!!)

Chop off the tops of the pumpkins

Cut pumpkins in half

Scrape out the seeds and stringy stuff (sorry for the blurry picture)

Peel skin off roasted pumpkin; puree innards in food processor

Strain excess water from puree before using

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

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INGREDIENTS

  • as many sugar pumpkins as you want to roast (they range from 6-8 inches in diameter and weigh about 2-3 pounds)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut off the top of each pumpkin.
  3. Cut each pumpkin in half (or into quarters).
  4. Scoop out the seeds (rinse and dry overnight if you want to roast them later).
  5. Place pumpkin halves on a baking sheet, and pour about a cup of water into the pan.
  6. Roast pumpkin in oven for 45-60 minutes, until flesh is soft through and through when pierced with a knife.
  7. Remove from oven, cool slightly, and peel skin. Discard skin.
  8. Place pumpkin chunks in a food processor and puree for 2-3 minutes, until no lumps remain. If needed, add some water to smooth out the puree.
  9. Set a tea towel, paper towel, or cheesecloth in a strainer, set it over a bowl, and add puree. Strain for about an hour to release excess water and thicken up the puree.
  10. Use within 5 days, or freeze for later use (Ziploc baggie, airtight containers, etc.)

Source: adapted from Annie’s Eats & Skinny Bits

Just a Sprinkling of Recipes to Use Pumpkin Puree

 

Pumpkin Fudge

This Pumpkin Fudge tastes ultra-sweet with a hint of fall spices and a hint of nuttiness from the roasted pecans. It also tastes a bit like maple…or caramel…because the ingredients include brown sugar that is boiled with butter and other stuff. Let’s just say this isn’t your typical fudge, which to me means chocolate. However, it is loaded with sweetness from two sugars, white chocolate, and marshmallow fluff. Definite sugar high with this dessert.

Pumpkin Fudge

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup chopped nuts, divided (walnut or pecans)
  • 1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips (about a 12-oz. pkg.)
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow creme
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts onto a baking sheet; place in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Shake the baking sheet halfway through baking so the nuts will toast evenly. Remove the nuts from oven and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, letting the foil extend up and hang over the sides of the pan.
  3. In a heavy saucepan, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter, and spices. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring and boil for 10-12 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 234-240 degrees F (the soft-ball stage).
  4. Quickly stir in the white chocolate chips, marshmallow creme, 3/4 cup nuts, and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for one minute or until morsels are melted. Immediately pour into prepared pan and top with remaining 1/4 cup nuts. Let stand on wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled. Refrigerate tightly covered. To cut, lift from pan, remove foil, and cut into 1-inch pieces (use a pizza cutter to make cutting easier).

SOURCE: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Pumpkin Cheesecake — Perfect Dessert for Thanksgiving

With the holidays fast approaching, I really want to share this Pumpkin Cheesecake I made last year for Thanksgiving. It was a surprisingly palatable alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie: same smooth texture as the pie but with a tangy cream cheese flavoring and pumpkin pie spices enhancing the overall flavor. Divinely delicious.

It does take some time and effort, but then again, this is one of those baking masterpieces worth every minute. And worth every bite, too. It received rave reviews from the holiday crew.

You can make the cheesecake up to three days in advance and refrigerate. Or you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and freeze until ready to use, allowing you to make this even further in advance. The whipped cream can be made a day or two ahead of time as well as the candied pecans.

Disclaimer about the photos: These were the first-ever food pictures I shot. At the time, I was mulling over whether to begin a food blog and thought I should start taking pics of my creations for practice–with no idea how to take an effective image (slow growth in that area several months later). Although I’m far from pleased with the quality of the pics, they are the only ones I have of this divine delight, and I think this recipe needs to be shared.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

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INGREDIENTS

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 9 graham crackers, broken (or 3 oz. which equaled about 3 cups of the prepackaged ground graham crackers)
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling

  • 1 1/3 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 5 eggs, separated into 3 eggs and 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Sweetened Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Candied Pecans

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped (or left intact)
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. sugar

DIRECTIONS

Graham Cracker Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place oven rack in lower-middle position.
  2. Mix graham crackers, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in food processor and give 15 two-second pulses to create very fine crumbs.
  3. Add butter to food processor; pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened.
  4. Transfer crust mixture into 9-inch nonstick springform pan that has been lightly sprayed with vegetable oil and softly pat it in, spreading it evenly over the bottom. Use a flat-bottomed drinking glass or ramekin to flatten the crust, and use the back of a spoon to press flat the edges.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes; transfer to wire rack and cool for 30 minutes.

Cheesecake Filling

  1. Set oven to 325 degrees F and place oven rack in the lower-middle position.
  2. Tightly wrap the outside of the 9-inch springform pan with two pieces of foil. Set springform pan inside a larger roasting pan in preparation for baking in a water bath, and bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil. (A water bath tempers the temperature, allowing the cheesecake to cook through at a slower rate.)
  3. In small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt to reduce lumps.
  4. To reduce moisture content of pumpkin, place a triple layer of paper towels onto a sheet pan, and on top of that evenly spread pumpkin. Place another triple layer of paper towels on top of pumpkin and firmly press to absorb moisture. Pull off top layer of towels, then fold pumpkin mix & remaining towels in half in order to pull away the towels; flip and pull off rest of towels.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed for one minute to aerate and smooth it, then scrape down sides of bowl to prevent lumps.
  6. Add 1/3 of the sugar-spice mixture; beat at medium-low speed for 1 minute, and repeat with two more batches of the sugar mixture. Remember to scrape down sides of bowl after each mixture…and beaters, too.
  7. Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice; beat at medium speed for one minute until well incorporated, about 45 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl.
  8. Add 3 eggs; mix at medium speed for 1 minute, until incorporated, then scrape sides of bowl. Add the other two eggs and mix again for 1 minute; scrape sides of bowl.
  9. Add heavy cream, mixing at low speed until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape sides of bowl.
  10. Pour cheesecake filling into springform pan over crust; smooth the top.
  11. Once roasting pan with springform pan is placed in oven, fill roasting pan with boiled water to halfway mark of springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.
  12. Remove cheesecake from oven. It should have 145-150 degrees F internal temperature (insert thermometer into side of cheesecake).  Leave it in the pan with the water for 45 minutes to continue cooking until it reaches an even consistency.
  13. When water cools to warm temp, remove cheesecake from roasting pan, discard foil, cool on cooling rack for 3 hours. (If you aren’t using a nonstick pan, while cheesecake is cooling in water bath, scrape sides with a paring knife to help release cheesecake from sides.)
  14. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours but overnight is even better. You can even leave cheesecake in refrigerator for up to three days.
  15. Release springform pan; carefully move cheesecake to platter. Allow it to come to room temp for 30 minutes before serving.
  16. Decorate as desired with whipped cream and candied nuts.
  17. When ready to serve, cut with knife dipped in hot water (and dried). Use a thin knife rather than a big clunky knife.
  18. Serve with whipped cream and candied pecans, or decorate with both prior to cutting into cheesecake (I prefer this method for a more stunning presentation).

Sweetened Whipped Cream

  1. Place the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  2. Whip on medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, then switch to high speed until the cream just forms still peaks.
  3. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Decorate by piping the whipped cream around the edges of the cheesecake.

Candied Pecans

  1. In a small frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add the pecans, sprinkle with granulated sugar and cook, stirring until the sugar melts and the nuts are toasted and caramel coated.
  3. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

SOURCES:

cheesecake: America’s Test Kitchen e-newsletter

sweetened whip cream: Food Network (Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa)

candied pecans: Annie’s Eats via Williams Sonoma (whose recipe uses a gingersnap crust for the cheesecake)

Other pumpkin recipes on my site:

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Pumpkin Bars

Mini Pumpkin Muffins

Mini Pumpkin Muffins (a.k.a. Donut Holes)

Oh my goodness, these are some seriously addictive treats! They keep popping up all over the food blogosphere, so I just had to try them. Insanely yummy. So yummy that I ate far too many and gave myself a tummy ache. Never mind that there is an issue of lack of self control between me and sweets–just know that these are GOOD! And oh-so-easy to whip up. And moist. And pumpkin-y. And full of fall spices. And the sugar/cinnamon topping–swoon!

Let’s talk more about that topping. The recipe calls for dunking these in butter and then rolling them around in a sugar/cinnamon mixture. I dunked the first two and wasn’t thrilled with the soak-in-butter result–just seemed like too much. So I poured the butter over the tops instead and used my sugar shaker to sprinkle on the sugar mix. I turned them over and sprinkled again. Next time I might just dunk the tops only  in butter and sprinkle with the sugar mix. Then again, that sugar and cinnamon are mighty tasty…

By the way, these taste best warm from the oven.

Mini Pumpkin Muffins

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INGREDIENTS

Muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Coating

  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin with baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk until smooth.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. While muffins bake, melt butter in one bowl; combine sugar and cinnamon in another. Remove muffins from oven; cool for 2 minutes. Dip each muffin in melted butter, then roll in sugar to coat.
  7. Best served warm.

SOURCE: Two Peas and Their Pod (enticing pics on their blog site)

Other pumpkin recipes on my site:

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

I made these pumpkin bars–which, by the way, are more like cake–for a luncheon at work. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to stay and enjoy the company of my coworkers because I had an impromptu meeting. Apparently, though, everyone loved the bars because people continue to rave about them and how moist they were. Pumpkin purée certainly creates a moist texture. But I also loved the autumn spices and the cream cheese frosting.

Although I don’t have a picture to share, I did place each cut piece into a cupcake liner for presentation purposes.

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

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INGREDIENTS

Pumpkin Bars

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar (I used 1 cup because I picked up pumpkin pie mix rather than pumpkin purée)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

* see tip below for adding additional spices if using straight pumpkin purée

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Pumpkin Bars

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until just combined. Do not overmix. Spread the batter into the 13×9-inch pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack; allow to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again.
  3. Spread onto cooled pumpkin bars.
  4. Optional: sprinkle with toasted and chopped pecans.

Some ideas I read in the Foodnetwork’s Reviewer’s Comments section:

* add 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice if using straight pumpkin purée

  • sprinkle frosting with chopped walnuts that have been candied with sugar and cinnamon
  • add vanilla bean to frosting mix
  • one reviewer cut the butter in half in the frosting recipe
  • one reader made this in a jellyroll pan so it actually came out more like bars rather than cake

SOURCE: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen who adapted from Foodnetwork’s Paula Deen

Other pumpkin recipes on my site:

 

Pumpkin Scones

 

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Cream Sunday: Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

October makes me think of pumpkins. And I’ve seen pumpkin recipes popping up all over the food blogosphere. I’ve also seen numerous food bloggers totally excited as the fall season has approached, which apparently signals the time for pumpkin fare.

Keep in mind that I am a Southern California gal and our climate is fairly temperate. We don’t experience distinct seasons quite like the majority of the country, thus I don’t share that same urge to begin baking with pumpkin when summer ends (because really, it still feels like summer through October in these parts).

However, seeing all the recipes and photos has inspired me to try a few. Thus, today I share with you my first pumpkin recipe of this autumn season: Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream.

The recipe calls for pumpkin purée, but the store only had pumpkin pie mix. Since I was really wanting to try this ice cream, I bought it and forged ahead. The ingredients on the pumpkin pie mix included sugar already, so I took a chance on guessing how much to reduce the sugar in the original recipe. And luckily it worked out fine, for the ice cream has plenty of sweetness. Mix that sweetness with autumn spices and you have pumpkin pie in ice cream form!

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar (I used 1/4 cup only since I used pumpkin pie mix rather than pumpkin purée)
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger (I keep peeled ginger cut into 1-inch chunks in a Ziploc baggie in the freezer so I always have it on hand for recipes–very easy to grate when frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin purée

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk the half-and-half, granulated sugar, ginger, ground cinnamon, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm and bubbling around the edges.
  2. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the half-and-half mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly, until completely incorporated.
  3. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens and coats the back of  wooden spoon (it will register between 170-175 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer).
  4. Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer in a heatproof bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar, then chill the mixture until very cold–at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
  5. Once cold, whisk in the vanilla extract and pumpkin purée. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer again (this will ensure smooth ice cream).
  6. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store the ice cream in an airtight container in your freezer.

Makes 1 quart.

SOURCE: Tracey’s Culinary Adventures who adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop

Other pumpkin recipes on my site:

Pumpkin Scones