Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkins are amazing. They’re beautiful, have a long shelf life, and most importantly, they can become pie. I try to pretend that pumpkin pie is at least moderately healthy since it’s made out of a squash-like fruit (naturally ignoring the fact that this fruit sits on top of a buttery crust and is topped with heaping dollops of whipped cream). Pumpkin pie is also among the easiest to make if you use canned pumpkin and a ready-made pie crust. Though I normally make it this way for Thanksgiving since I would be insane to attempt anything more elaborate while making all of the other desserts that the holiday entails, I do enjoy using fresh pumpkin when I have the time.

IMG_8644

So, today, I peeled, seeded, and cubed a sugar pumpkin that I picked off the vine* at Hank’s Pumpkintown out east. This is the most time consuming part of making pumpkin pie from scratch; pumpkins are relatively easy to peel (using a knife, not a vegetable peeler), but they can be tough to cut through. After steaming the pumpkin, I put it in the food processor, which you will notice in the following picture, has been in my family since formica countertops were in vogue.

IMG_8662

I also made the crust from scratch using Martha Stewart’s pie crust recipe, which can be found on her website: http://www.marthastewart.com/344292/our-favorite-pie-crust … This was my first attempt at truly crimping the crust; please forgive any glaring crimping errors. The original recipe for the pie filling hails from Libby’s, the brand of canned pumpkin that my family always uses. I altered it slightly to omit cloves and include nutmeg. I also used a little of the extra pie crust to make a jack-o-lantern face, which I put on top of the pie about halfway through baking.

IMG_8654

Original Recipe: https://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18470/libbys-famous-pumpkin-pie/

*full disclosure, my friend Sam kicked it off the vine for me… did you know that pumpkin vines are super prickly??

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Scant 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

large eggs

15 oz. pumpkin puree (a little less than 2 cups)

1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk

unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

IMG_8674

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour filling into pie shell.

IMG_8696
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake for 20 minutes or until slightly firm, then apply jack-o-lantern face to the center of the pie. Continue baking for another 20-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving (unless you don’t like whipped cream, in which case I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR LIFESTYLE).

 

IMG_8725

 

IMG_8756

IMG_8767

IMG_8776

IMG_8777

Enjoy!

Leslie

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

IT’S HERE, IT’S FINALLY HERE!!! Autumn, my one true love, has arrived. And you know what that means: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, roast chicken and vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, turnips, cranberries, pears, and last but not least, pumpkin. Come fall all of the usual suspects, even chocolate chip cookies, get an autumn injection in the form of a pumpkin twist.

IMG_8428

As much as I love most things pumpkin (I would say all, but you can never be sure of what’s out there), I hadn’t thought of adding pumpkin to something as classic as the chocolate chip cookie. I’m always wary of tampering with things that are good as they are. However, I recently saw mention of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies on Taylor Swift’s tumblr, and was immediately intrigued. She attributes her favorite recipe for the treat to foodnetwork.com. Although she says that she prefers using semi-sweet chocolate chips, the recipe recommends milk chocolate, so I went with that option. The end result is fabulous; the cookies are reminiscent of pumpkin pancakes in both texture and taste. Just make sure you mix in the chocolate chips thoroughly, or the morsel-free batter will spread too much when baking. Original Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe.html

IMG_8390

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

IMG_8387

IMG_8378

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2-4 cookie sheets with parchment paper for an easy clean up.

IMG_8385

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips (remember to stir thoroughly!). Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets.

IMG_8414

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges, and the cookies are a deep gold. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2-4 minutes. Carefully take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

IMG_8419

IMG_8444

IMG_8439

Enjoy!

Leslie

Breakfast Cinnamon Buns

One of the most comforting scents of fall is that of cinnamon baking, especially when it’s accompanied by butter and sugar. It’s a unique spice in that’s familiar and exotic at the same time. Cinnamon buns, though excellent, take a pretty long time when you make them the standard way, which involves yeast. In contrast, this yeast-free recipe takes a measly 45 minutes including prep time, which makes it perfect for breakfast. Because they lack yeast, these breakfast buns are more biscuit-like than regular cinnamon buns, which err on the lusciously gooey side of things (eat at Cinnabon for reference). Normally I’d be all about lusciously gooey cinnamon buns, but in the morning I like to keep it pretty low key, which is why I recommend these delicious delights. If you don’t have time to make the dough and bake them in the same morning, simply prepare the dough and filling the night before, and bake the next day. Cinnamon buns are always best warm, so try to eat them as soon as possible after baking them (it won’t be hard).

This is a slightly modified version of a recipe I found on epicurious.com. Based on suggestions from other bakers, I doubled the filling. If you like a lot of icing, I recommend doubling the icing amounts as well since what’s listed below is only enough to drizzle sparsely on top.

Original recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Shortcut-Cinnamon-Buns-101437

INGREDIENTS:

FILLING:

4 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

DOUGH:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp granulated sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp cold unsalted butter

1 large egg

scant 1/4 cup milk (I used fat free since it’s what I have, but whole milk is usually best for baking)

ICING:

3 1/2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp water

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

FILLING:

In a small bowl stir together 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and cinnamon.

ICING:

In another small bowl stir together confectioners’ sugar and water until smooth.

DOUGH:

Into a large bowl sift together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. In another small bowl whisk together egg and 3 tablespoons milk and add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.

Breakfast cinnamon buns 001

Transfer mixture to a lightly floured surface and gently knead, 3 or 4 times, until it forms a dough. Pat dough into a 10- by 6-inch rectangle. It doesn’t have to be exact, so no need to pull out the ruler!

Breakfast cinnamon buns 004

ASSEMBLY:

Brush dough with some remaining milk and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar.

Breakfast cinnamon buns 005

Beginning with a short side, roll up rectangle to form a 6-inch log and cut crosswise into 4 pieces.

Breakfast cinnamon buns 007

Arrange pieces on the center of a baking sheet, cut sides up, with seams touching.

Breakfast cinnamon buns 010

Bake buns in middle of oven until pale golden and cooked through, about 16 minutes.

Drizzle icing over warm buns.

 

Breakfast cinnamon buns 015
 
Breakfast cinnamon buns 011
 
 
Enjoy!
 
Leslie