Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pumpkin madness

Fall is falling fast into winter, the brilliant hues of gold and crimson on the trees are slowly descending to the ground and Halloween passed so quickly, it's Thanksgiving now. I got a pumpkin for Halloween and it greeted me every time I came in the door until one day I decided it was time to go. But what to do with a pumpkin? The eco-environmentalist in me couldn't just put it in the trash room next to the recycling, so I looked up how to cook it and came up with some recipes to recycle my jack-o-lantern friend. It was ridiculously easy. I tried two methods, just for kicks, to see which was easier and faster. One method was to bake it at 450 until it was soft and then peel it and the other was to steam it. Steaming was faster since I did it in small chunks, both were pretty easy and the skin pulled right off. I barely had to mash it since it softened nicely in both methods.

Now I had about 5 cups of fresh pumpkin on my hands, so I made a pumpkin pie! Pie is one of my favorite words, it's impossible not to smile when you say it. Mmmmm, pie. The recipe was easy (it says so in the name!) and I decided to do a gluten free crust, using almond flour instead.

Easy Pumpkin Pie with Almond Flour Crust

ALMOND FLOUR CRUST

1 ½ cups almond flour

3 tablespoons Butter

3 tablespoons Sugar

I melted the butter and sugar together in a 9” glass pie plate at 425 degrees and then added in the almond flour and incorporated it and pressed it into the pan, it was a little shy of the lip of the pan.

Filling:

EASY PUMPKIN PIE (Cooks.com)

1 (9 inch) unbaked pastry shell (I used the almond crust instead)

1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin (I used my freshly steamed pumpkin)

1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

2 eggs

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine ingredients in large bowl, pour into shell, bake 15 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking 35-40 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

The next day, a friend sent me a link to the New York Times which had published some incredible recipes for fall and I fell in love with a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Bread Pudding. Pudding is right up there with pie in my favorite words category, it just sounds so nice and cozy. My sister-in-law's mother always uses it as a term of endearment and I think it's perfect. Combine it with the word "pie" and forget about it, that's cuteness and coziness exponential.

I didn't want to use the day old bread recommended in the recipe, I wanted something with a little more pizazz and flavor. I had a bottle of molasses sitting on my counter for a few months now, begging to be used in something, so I looked up a recipe using the molasses and came up with a ginger date muffin recipe from Gourmet magazine in January of 1999. (Oh those glory days of Gourmet, and 1999, can't possibly have been 11 years ago...)

The whole process takes about two hours, which for a multi-tasker like me works perfectly. I can do a load of dishes it took to make it in the dishwasher before the whole thing is finished baking! It's gone over with eye-rolling groans of ecstasy so I think I'm onto something here...

Pumpkin and Chocolate Gingerbread Pudding

First make:

Ginger date muffins – Gourmet Magazine Jan 1999


  • (for bread pudding recipe, I omitted the dates)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

6 tablespoons unsulfured molasses

1 3/4 cups packed pitted dates (about 10 ounces)

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

6 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F. and butter twelve 1/3-cup muffin cups (for bread pudding I used mini muffin pan yielding 24)

Into a bowl sift together flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl whisk together egg and molasses until combined. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in flour and egg mixtures until just combined. Divide batter among muffin cups and bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Then:

Chocolate-Pumpkin Bread Pudding (Chloe Coscarelli. New York Times, November 14, 2010)

1 cup coconut milk

1 15-ounce can organic pumpkin

1/2 cup brown sugar (can use maple syrup)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cloves

I added ½ tsp cardamom and used a Tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of the above, it's all the same but has a little white pepper to heat it up and accent the flavor

10 cups cubed day-old bread of your choice (about 10 to 12 slices of sandwich bread, depending on the thickness of slices) (used gingerbread muffins above on this version)

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (Guittard and Ghirardelli are among those that are nondairy) (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet on this version)

I also added a package of Heath Bar Toffee Chips which really brought it up a notch

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 14 4-ounce ramekins (single-serving ceramic dishes) or a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish.

2. In a blender, process coconut milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt and spices until smooth. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes (crumbled ginger bread muffins) with the pumpkin mixture and chocolate chips until each bread cube is coated. (Add package of toffee chips.)

3. If using ramekins: Evenly sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar into the bottom of each greased ramekin. Fill each ramekin to the top with the mixture and lightly press it down with the back of a spoon. If using a 9-by-13 baking dish: Fill the baking dish with the mixture and lightly press it down with the back of a spoon. Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons brown sugar over the top of the bread pudding. The brown sugar will help the pudding to caramelize on the edges. (Steps 1 through 3 can be done up to three days in advance; store covered in the refrigerator.)

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until top is lightly browned. If using ramekins: Let the pudding cool a few minutes, then carve around the edges with a knife to loosen and unmold. Garnish with powdered sugar if desired and serve warm. If using a 9-by-13 baking dish: Let the pudding cool a few minutes before serving. Cut into portions, then garnish with powdered sugar if desired and serve warm. The pudding can be baked right before serving or earlier that day and then reheated for 8 to 10 more minutes right before serving. (poured coconut milk over top to serve)