Lately my newsfeeds and Pinterest pages are overloaded with pumpkin recipes.
Who knew you could do so many things with pumpkin puree? Has pumpkin always been this popular and I just didn't know it? The only memory I have of pumpkin pie in my youth is the occasional dull brown-colored pumpkin pie that showed up at covered-dish church gatherings. We never had it at family gatherings, not even at Thanksgiving.
Steve, on the other hand, had pumpkin pie at every Thanksgiving meal he could remember. Since Steve was raised in the North, I wondered if pumpkin pies were a Northern thing. It turns out that they were prior to the Civil War. It was only when Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday (which the Confederacy saw as "a way to impose Yankee traditions on the South") that pumpkin pies began to show up on Southern tables. Apparently my ancestors didn't get the memo about the pies!
Libby started selling canned pumpkin in 1929 and making a pumpkin pie got a whole lot easier, but the pies were still relegated to November and December celebrations. While pumpkin recipes saw a slight rise in the early '60s, it wasn't until 2003 that pumpkin became a fall icon, thanks to Starbucks introducing its Pumpkin Spice Latte. Since then, pumpkin spice and pumpkin recipes have soared to new heights. Yes, a coffee drink that, up to 2015, didn't even have pumpkin in it, is why pumpkin recipes are dominating my social media.
I'll confess that I'm not enamored with pumpkin pie, so it was hard for me to step out and try other pumpkin recipes. Thankfully, one of the chefs at the restaurant had me try a couple of pumpkin desserts. I really liked them, but was perplexed. I thought all pumpkin tasted the same? It turns out I like pumpkin - but I don't like pumpkin pie spice. Pumpkin pie spice, in my humble opinion, is too earthy for dessert. I also have a problem with purchasing a spice that is only used two or three months out of the year, but that's another column altogether. I keep everything that is in pumpkin pie spice in my cabinet, so I just mix my own in the amount needed for the dish. The recipe I use is light on the allspice and nutmeg and heavier on the cinnamon side. It still gives that "pumpkin smell" to the dish, but it doesn't overpower the other ingredients.
After tasting a few pumpkin desserts, I decided to try to make a few of my own. The recipes below are adapted from recipes from Pinterest. Unfortunately, they are all posted multiple times by different people, which makes it impossible to give credit to for the original recipe. As the preacher said "there is nothing new under the sun" so I'll just thank Libby's and McCormick (the first company that produced pumpkin spice) for making it so easy to prepare and enjoy pumpkin!
Teri Bell is co-owner of Miss Sophie's Marketplace at the Mighty Eighth in Pooler. Go to www.sophiesmarketplace.com.
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
Yields Â¼ cup
8 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1 (15-ounce) can 100 percent pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour muffin pan or line the tins with paper baking cups. In large bowl, stir together pumpkin, pumpkin spice, sugar and brown sugar. Add eggs, oil and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Slowly stir in flour mixing until there are no lumps. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract until well combined. Top each muffin with about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture. Use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter. Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Salted Caramel Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread
Yields 18 muffins
1 can (16.3-ounce) Pillsbury Original Grands
Â¾ cup 100 percent pumpkin puree
Â½ cup pecans, chopped
Â½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Â½ tsp allspice
Â¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tablespoon melted butter
Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8x5 bread loaf pan. In a small mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, spices and pecans. Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Separate each biscuit into 2 layers, to make total of 16 thin biscuits. Brush biscuits with melted butter and drizzle each biscuit with caramel. Spread pumpkin mixture evenly all over the biscuits. Stack biscuits into 4 separate piles. Place stacks in loaf pan on their side, making sure ends touching pan don't have filling on them. Drizzle some caramel over top and sprinkle with pecans. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until loaf is deep golden brown and center is baked through.
*I used Smucker's salted caramel. You can find it with the ice cream toppings.
Pumpkin Apple Butter
This would be such a great gift with a loaf of fresh baked bread. Look for the frozen bread loaves in your grocery freezer. Thaw, proof and bake. No one will ever know you didn't make it from scratch!
15 ounce can 100 percent pumpkin puree
2 medium apples, cored and diced
1 cup apple juice
Â½ cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Â¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Â¼ teaspoon ground ginger
Â¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover loosely and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Allow mixture to cool. Place mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks. Freeze for up to 3 months.