Autumn inspired, part 2
By Angie Sutton
Who doesn’t love the season of pumpkin everything? Most recipes involving pumpkin likely call for a can of pure pumpkin puree. Simply meaning is it just that and nothing more than cooked, pureed pumpkin. This allows you to add a pinch of this seasoning or a teaspoon of that seasoning to create just the flavor you’re looking for. Pumpkin pie filling is a convenience that is canned and pre-flavored with spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger and is slightly sweetened.
The same goes for recipes calling for pumpkin pie spice. For those who may only make one or two recipes calling for this combination of cinnamon, ginger, all spice, nutmeg and cloves, the packed pumpkin pie spice works well. You may wish to add a pinch more cinnamon to enhance the flavor.
I prefer to make a batch of my own pumpkin pie spice each season. I like to quadruple the batch and then divide it into small jars with tightly-sealed lids to give to friends. The Saigon cinnamon and quality spices really make a difference in this mix.
Mini Pumpkin Empanadas
The sweet little pockets of goodness are easy to make and just the right amount of dessert to complete dinner on a weeknight. I like bringing these to the office and for the ladies in my church group as they are a hit. Of course, using the refrigerate pie dough from the store is the shortcut but making your own empanada dough is easy enough.
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves with the butter. Stir in the pumpkin and the spices. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Filling should be stiff and not watery. Remove the saucepan from the heat, pour the filling into a bowl and let it cool for 15 minutes. Put the filling in the refrigerator to set for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll the pie crusts and using a large glass or biscuit cutter, cut 4 circles from each crust. Add a small dollop of filling to each circle. Lightly wet the outsides edges of the dough with water and fold the dough over, creating a half-moon shape, and gently crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Brush each empanada with egg whites, sprinkle with sugar and puncture each empanada with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Soft Pumpkin Cookies
My father-in-law Darrell loves these cookies. They are light and fluffy and have a flavor that makes you want to eat 10 of them. The smell of these cookies baking lures the kids to the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon.
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat sugar and butter until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, drop on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Drizzle with glaze: Beat together until smooth—2 cups sifted powdered sugar; 3 tablespoons milk; 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted; and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Fluffy Pumpkin Dip
I like to serve this dip with apples and graham crackers. You can be creative and hollow out a smaller-sized pumpkin to nestle a serving bowl in.
1 (16-oz.) tub whipped topping
Fold together all ingredients until combined.
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecakes
There is a certain faction of folks out there who are like me and just eat “the good part” of the pumpkin pie and leave the crust. So this recipe is for the filling lovers out there! I like to serve it in the smaller clear cups for a light dessert and it makes about a dozen servings topped with a dollop of whipped cream. I like to put the pumpkin puree in the refrigerator for a few hours prior to folding it in.
18 gingersnaps (not soft and chewy variety)
Crush the gingersnaps in a resealable plastic baggie, or with a mortar and pestle set, and pour into a small bowl. Combine the crushed cookies with the melted butter. Press into the bottom of 12 small clear cups. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy whipping cream until you have stiff peaks; set aside. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy then add the brown sugar, vanilla and seasonings and continue to beat for 2 minutes. Fold in the pumpkin and about 3/4 of the whipped cream. Use a cookie scoop to evenly distribute the filling into the cups. Top each filled cup with dollops of the remaining whipped topping. Refrigerate and serve within 24 hours. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon before serving.
Make your own pumpkin pie spice:
3 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
Mix together and keep in a tightly sealed container for the season.