Archive for: pumpkin
I can’t resist putting pumpkin into all kinds of goodies during the fall. Pumpkin pie is a classic, and pumpkin soup is a great choice for something savory, but there are all kinds of other pumpkin goodies to make if you get a little creative. A batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies is a great way to use up a little bit of leftover pumpkin puree if you have some sitting around after making other pumpkin recipes. The easy-to-make cookies fill both a pumpkin and a chocolate craving, and don’t need much pumpkin to have a fall flavor.
The cookies are soft and chewy, but not cakey, and they are just packed with chocolate chips. Pumpkin has a fairly mild flavor, so I added traditional pumpkin pie spices – cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg – to the cookie dough to draw more attention to it. The spices really add character to the cookies and blend well with the chocolate. You can still taste the oatmeal in the cookies, too, which adds a nice nuttiness to the mix. I prefer quick cooking oatmeal in these cookies and find that you get the best texture in the finished cookies with it. If you only have whole rolled oats, simply pulse them in the food processor a few times to break them up a bit.
I definitely recommend using semisweet or dark chocolate chips with these cookies for the best results, as milk chocolate can be a little too sweet with the pumpkin and the spices. Nuts would be a great addition, however, and could add a nice crunchiness to the cookies. To add the nuts, just replace about a half cup of the chocolate chips with chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts. This cookie recipe can be doubled easily if you want to make a big batch, and the cookies store well for several days when stored in an airtight container.
This Spiderweb Pumpkin Tart has a spooky look to it that makes it perfect for Halloween. A black spiderweb covers the top of the tart – and the design is surprisingly easy to make for something that delivers such a “wow” factor when you’re ready to serve it.
The tart filling is much like the filling for pumpkin pie, but a little bit denser. A thicker filling allows the design to hold its shape easily here. A small portion of the filling is separated out from the rest of the batch and mixed with some cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is just enough to give it a nearly black color, but it doesn’t give the finished tart much flavor because only a very small amount of filling is colored. The colored batter is piped on to the plain batter in a big spiral, and to make the design all you need to do is slowly run a toothpick from the center of the pan to the sides, straight through the filling and the swirl. I recommend gently tapping the pan on the counter a few times to smooth out any grooves that you might have made with the toothpick before baking.
The tart has a warm, spicy pumpkin flavor. It’s a much thinner layer of filling than you would find in a pumpkin pie, so it is less custardy than a pumpkin pie traditionally is. You also have a nice ratio of crust to filling with this tart. I definitely recommend using a buttery, shortbread tart crust or something like my Maple Sugar Shortbread Tart Crust, which is what I paired with this recipe. A Browned Butter Tart Dough can also be a good option.
I’ve included the instructions for making the spiderweb design in the recipe for the tart. If you don’t want the spiderweb (if you want to make this for Thanksgiving instead of Halloween) design on top, just skip over that part and pour the entire pumpkin batter into the tart shell. You won’t need to change the baking time at all.
Update: Check out my video demo of the spiderweb technique.
Pumpkin definitely benefits from the use of a little spice. On its own, pumpkin is slightly sweet with a relatively mild flavor. It is good, but it doesn’t necessarily stand out strongly when used on its own. AS a result, we tend to use spices to keep pumpkin a little more interesting and give it a little more complexity. Now, pumpkin and spice are so intertwined that you rarely see pumpkin without at least a few spices to keep it company, and there is a spice blend dedicated to pumpkin pie and pumpkin desserts in the spice section of the grocery store.
This Pumpkin Spice Bread is intended to highlight the spices, leaving the pumpkin as a nice backdrop to tie them all together, to create a fragrant loaf that is a great choice for cool autumn or winter baking. It’s a bit like gingerbread, but without any molasses so it has a lighter overall feel. It uses cinnamon, ginger and cloves, which are all commonly paired with pumpkin. It also includes cardamom and allspice. Cardamom brings out a bit of brightness from the pumpkin, and the allspice ties in really well with the rest of the spices. The result is a moist, tender and spicy bread that is a little more complex than your average pumpkin loaf.
One other thing to like about this loaf is that it keeps very well for a couple of days when stored in an airtight container (or when well-wrapped with plastic wrap). The pumpkin keeps the bread moist, and the spices blend together as the bread sits, mellowing the individual spices into a nice overall combination. This bread is sweet enough to stand in for dessert if you want something simple, rather than a big cake, but I like it anytime, served with tea or coffee. It also holds up well to toasting and is tasty with butter or cream cheese at breakfast.
Banana bread is one of the things that I bake most often, as not only do I like it, but I almost always have some bananas around the kitchen that need a little more direction in life. The same could be said for pumpkin bread during the fall and winter months. I stock up on canned pumpkin puree in the fall, so I always have it on hand, and pumpkin bread is an easy, all-purpose treat to bake with it. Pumpkin bread is spicy and satisfying, a nice change of pace from banana bread (although similar in concept) and the perfect thing to have with coffee on a chilly winter day.
Like banana bread, I have one pumpkin bread recipe that I turn to over and over again, adding different twists to it here and there depending on what I’m in the mood for. This is that Basic Pumpkin Bread recipe. It’s a very moist loaf that is tender but filling at the same time. There is a good amount of pumpkin puree in the recipe (you can use homemade or store bought), along with a generous dose of pumpkin pie spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
The pumpkin bread is very tasty on its own, spread with butter or even topped with cream cheese. It also opens the door to all kinds of variations depending on what ingredients you have in your kitchen. Nuts, chocolate chips and dried fruits are just a few add-ins that can completely change your pumpkin bread. Candied ginger can really spice it up, as can playing with the existing spices in the bread for different flavor profiles. I’ve listed a few suggestions beneath the recipe, so use them as a jumping off point for your own pumpkin bread and then come up with your own combinations!
Alongside the big, decorative pumpkins typically used for making jack-o-lanterns around Halloween that they stock at most markets, you’ll also see smaller pumpkins with names like “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins.” Large pumpkins tend to have watery and stringy flesh, so they’re not a great choice for cooking with. Sugar pumpkins, on the other hand, are an excellent choice for cooking and baking applications. These smaller squashes have a firm, sweet flesh that is much smoother than that of larger pumpkins. They’re great for roasting, making soups and for making homemade pumpkin puree for pies, not just because they have a good pumpkin flavor, but also because their firmer and less stringy flesh roasts up to a much more pleasant consistency than that of a much larger pumpkin.
Sugar pumpkins are only about 6 to 8 inches in diameter and they will usually be labeled with “sugar pumpkin” or the name of another small variety of pumpkin, often with a note indicating that they’re the best choice for baking. From one pumpkin of this size, you’ll typically be able to get the same amount of puree that you do from a can of pumpkin (15-16 oz), or perhaps a little bit more.