Category: pumpkin

A pie for the ages: bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie!

I’m publishing this pie today, because I wanted to give you time to make it for Thanksgiving. I purposely didn’t post it too early, and I specifically waited until this date. I wanted to give you enough time to really absorb what you’re seeing. Then get up, go out to the store & get the ingredients you need to make this, then come home & plan to do so on/by Thursday. I felt it had to be done this way. So I’m giving you a few days, and I expect you all to make it. You must. Seriously.

It’s THAT good.

Don’t believe me?

Bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie, anyone?

It’s the pie to end all pies.

It’s a pie for the ages!

Bourbon. Sweet potato. Pumpkin. With toasted meringue. Toasted bourbon meringue, that is.

Sweet potato pumpkin pie with bourbon! And more bourbon in the meringue.

Say word.

A motherflippin’ bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie with toasted bourbon meringue! 

When I told Jay of my plans to make it, his jaw dropped open. And he doesn’t even really like pumpkin anything! I knew I was on to something. Although, in hindsight, it might have just been the mention of bourbon. Either way, I combined a few different recipes for a few different pies & came up with this: the holy grail of autumn piedom.

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Haulin’ oats.

Use steel-cut oats to make an easy 'overnight oats' recipe flavored with maple pumpkin butter.

Bad pun. Sorry. For those of you born after the early 90′s, I was making a pun referring to Hall & Oates, a 1970′s/1980′s duo who’s songs “Maneater”, “Kiss On My List” & “Private Eyes” are insanely well-known. But yeah. It was a bad pun.

On the plus side? This is a great idea.

I first saw it on This Homemade Life & I thought it was genius. Problem is, I don’t like oatmeal. I like oatmeal cookies… but not oatmeal. But I still wanted to try it anyway. Jay loves oatmeal, my parents love oatmeal, the whole world loves oatmeal. I was starting to feel like a leper. Truth be told, I’m not a breakfast person. If I’m away on vacation, I can maybe get in the mood for a breakfast or two. Especially on the road at an awesome Mom & Pop style diner. Otherwise, nope. I mean, I love breakfast foods. I’ve been known to have a bowl of cereal or two, & I do enjoy a good breakfast-for-dinner now & then. But I don’t want oatmeal when I’m having it- I want a big ol’ stack of buttermilk pancakes or waffles with butter & maple syrup. And don’t forget: lots of crispy bacon.

So to avoid the stigma of being the only person alive who doesn’t like oatmeal, I thought I’d do my own, more seasonal spin on the “overnight oats” in a jar: maple pumpkin oats.

An easy way to make maple pumpkin overnight oats using maple pumpkin butter.

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Happy, happy, happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Last minute ideas are right this way...

Ahh. Well, it’s the big day. Halloween! Hopefully you’ve got your costumes & treats all sorted by now. But just in case…

If you’re in need of some (pretty fast & easy) last minute ideas:

▪ Pumpkin muffins made from the cut out jack-o-lantern pieces ▪ Roasted pumpkin seeds ▪ Spiced brown sugar pumpkin seeds ▪ Halloween candy cupcakes ▪ Pumpkin cupcakes with whipped cream frosting ▪ Spiderweb cupcakes ▪

If you want something a bit more… dramatic, try these:

Dexter’s blood spatter cupcakes ▪ True Blood velvet cupcakes ▪ Black velvet cupcakes with hand-painted white chocolate sugar skulls ▪ Monster cake balls ▪ Chocolate stout cupcakes with white chocolate “bones” ▪

And before you go… here are my jack-o-lanterns for this year! Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas & a kitty, hanging out on the stairs.

My jack-o-lanterns this year!

Be good to all those little creeps that knock on your door tonight.

See you in November, my little monsters!

 

 

Gettin’ pumpkin apple sauce-y.

Happy October! My favorite month. It’s finally cool enough to bake more. It’s time for super fresh apples & tons of pumpkins. And all the best spices are fall-appropriate: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, etc. And let’s not forget that it’s the month of my favorite holiday- Halloween!

it's October!(Ironically, the dates are the same this year! Except Columbus Day)

 

So we’re going to celebrate my favorite month/upcoming holiday & get sauced! Or not. Or actually… yeah we are, but not in the way you think. A different kinda sauced.

Like I said, it’s both apple season & pumpkin season. Everyone is going apple picking, pumpkin picking, & shoving apple cider donuts & pumpkin lattes in their pie hole. You can’t go anywhere without tripping over pumpkins for sale & bushels of apples. So of course I had this big old batch of bright, shiny, fresh apples, right? Apples don’t last forever. So they had to be used up, right? And naturally I’ve already stocked up on organic canned pumpkin. Well…

*siiiiiiiiigh*

I made applesauce. I know what you’re thinking:

 “Three posts in a row about apples!? BO-RING!”

But wait.

Yes, I made applesauce. But… it’s not what you think. I had to add pumpkin.

I know. SAY WHAT?  APPLESAUCE WITH PUMPKIN?!

Uh huh. Yup.

I'm ready for applesauce. And you know what? Let's add a little pumpkin, shall we?

Gorgeous apples & organic canned pumpkin… together. With cinnamon streusel muffins to go with it.

Blame it on the Food Network magazine.

Blame it on the rain. I don’t know. Blame it on the fact that I can’t keep myself out of the kitchen once the fall comes!

Pumpkin applesauce! Because why make the same ol boring applesauce?

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A four-day weekend: it’s like buttah.

So this is what I do two days after Thanksgiving: I make maple-pumpkin butter. Thanks Marisa.

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It’s been a maple-y kinda holiday for me I guess, between these little things & this sauce, and now this recipe. But when you’ve got a lot of delicious, quality maple syrup and you’re taunted with amazing recipes and you’ve got all this pumpkin…! I can’t really resist. Plus, this time of year is when there’s more pumpkin than you can ever eat at once- whether it’s canned pumpkin, or it’s whole pumpkins. So why not make something like this that’s freezable. That way you can enjoy a little taste of fall in the winter, or even spring.

If it lasts that long.

Are you Americans enjoying your 4-day weekend (if you get one, unlike Jay)? Did you have any “projects” this weekend, like my pumpkin butter?

Maple + pumpkin + bourbon = happiness!

Yeah, you read that right. Motherjumpin’ MAPLE PUMPKIN. And do you know what the maple & pumpkin have done with themselves in this particular instance? They’ve put themselves into little maple pumpkin pastries, or pasties. And yes- it looks as good as it sounds. And it’s all really easy!

See, it all started like this: I had a load of pumpkin in my freezer that I had to use up before Christmas kicks in & everything becomes peppermint-y and not so much pumpkin-y. But I was stumped. Cupcakes, been there done that. Bread? That, too. However, randomly, while looking for something else, I found something that gave me an idea: orange ramekins. I know, you’re thinking, “What do ramekins have to do with anything?” Well, see, I had forgotten all about them. I bought them last year and never used them. I shoved them in a cabinet and forgot all about ‘em. But when I saw them this year I immediately thought of pumpkins… and I was originally going to come up with a pumpkin spice pudding, or a pumpkin-y bread pudding. But then… to add to my excitement over having ideas again… I saw this.

How the hell was I supposed to ignore a recipe that has both pumpkin and maple in the title?

However, while custard tastes delicious, it doesn’t look all that delicious, especially pumpkin custard. Pumpkin custard resembles something wonky that babies do when sick. It tastes amazing, but does not photograph well; unless of course, you’re working for Bon Appétit & have professional lighting & backdrops & such at your disposal. I do not. I live in a house, not a photography studio. My life is not ruled by food photography. I do not have professional lights & reflectors set up just so my custard photographs well. So I made the custard, and it was eaten up super quickly, but the photos left a lot to be desired. And that’s when I decided to hell with it. I’m going back to an old standby- mini pies.

Or pasties.

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Are they an “old standby” at this point? I don’t know, but somewhere between my Nutella pop-tarts and my mini-apple pies, I came to love the portable pie. And it became a fall-back for me when regular pies hate me, or, apparently, when custard doesn’t look appetizing. I had all this pumpkin left & I didn’t want to do a pumpkin pie, ’cause that’s boring. So I made little pies. This time, though, they look more like pastries, or pasties, more so than miniature pies… so I’ll just dub them maple pumpkin pasties (Harry Potter, anyone?). You can call them mini pies, or pumpkin pop-tarts, or pumpkin littles, or whatever cutesy name you like. They’re pie crust, cut into circles, filled with a maple pumpkin filling, folded over, brushed with egg… and then baked. When done, they’re a hand-held heavenly little cluster of amazeballsness. Or a pasty.

And before you go off thinking I’m talking about those little items strippers use, get your minds out of the gutter:

A pasty (play /ˈpæsti/, Cornish: Hogen; Pasti), (sometimes known as a pastie or British pasty in the United States)[1] is a baked pastry associated in particular with Cornwall in Great Britain. It is made by placing uncooked filling on a flat pastry circle and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. After baking, the result is a raised semicircular end-product.

The traditional Cornish pasty, which has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in Europe,[2] is filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, swede (also known as a yellow turnip or rutabaga – referred to in Cornwall as turnip) and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and is baked. Today, the pasty is the food most associated with Cornwall, it is regarded as the national dish, and it accounts for 6% of the Cornish food economy. Pasties with many different fillings are made; some shops specialise in selling all sorts of pasties.

The origins of the pasty are unclear, though there are many references to them throughout historical documents and fiction. The pasty is now popular world-wide due to the spread of Cornish miners, and variations can be found in Australia, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere.

-Wikipedia

So a pasty is just like a hand-held pie. Cute, easy, convenient,  and so much better than a regular ol’ pumpkin pie, especially with the addition of maple. But you might be wondering where the bourbon comes in. That part is the perfect example of how I can’t leave well enough alone. I thought some bourbon whipped cream (thanks for the excellent idea, Tanglewood Baked Goods) would be amazing with this. And I was right. As usual (kidding). But seriously, the bourbon whipped cream really gives it something. It elevates it, makes it more grown-up.

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 MAPLE PUMPKIN PASTIES (adapted extremely generously from a recipe by Joy the Baker & from these)

Ingredients:

  • 1 double pie crust recipe of your choice; made, chilled, rolled out to 1/4″ thickness & ready to cut
  • 3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • cinnamon sugar (just mix together 2 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon in a little bowl), optional (I didn’t do it)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Prepare the filling: whisk together in a small saucepan the pumpkin puree, maple syrup and spices, then, on medium-low heat, heat the mixture just until it’s fragrant. Remove from the heat. Add the egg & flour, whisking quickly. Set aside in the fridge to cool.
  3. Cut your pie crust into whatever shapes you want. I used fairly large circles that I then folded over in half to create half moons/crescents. You can also do rectangles, or do squares and fold them over in half to make little triangles, or make smaller circles and use two to mimic a teeny pie (like thus). Do as thou wilt, just know the bigger the shape, the less pasties you’ll get.
  4. Make sure you poke holes or slice little cuts in the top half of the dough; meaning whether it’s folded over or it’s a separate piece of dough, it has to have airholes to release moisture, gases & heat. You don’t want these little ones bursting open in your oven after all your hard work. Assemble your pasties by spooning the filling in, sealing them, and creating a crust with a floured fork. DON’T OVER-FILL THEM! They most definitely will burst open if you do. I definitely got a little over-zealous & had a few messes to clean up.
  5.  Place them on the baking sheet, leaving some space in between. Let them breathe! If this takes you a while and you notice that the dough is getting super soft, chill the pasties you already have made until it’s time to bake them. It’ll help them keep their shape.
  6. Brush the pasties with either a whole egg beaten, or just egg white, to create a nice brown crust. sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar, if desired. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with bourbon whipped cream.

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 I know, they’re so messy. I don’t even know why none of my mini-pies ever come out even. I just can’t do anything 100% perfect, it always looks a little off and uneven. As a matter of fact, I gave up measuring my dough with rulers & shit, because it just never works out! But whatever they look like, I don’t care, they taste good. Isn’t that what’s important, anyway? It isn’t important how perfect they look, or how beautifully they’re shaped. What matters is if they’re edible, delicious, and if people love eating them.

And that, my friends, is exactly the case with these.

You can use any size cookie cutter you want, or you can make a larger calzone-sized pasty by using a cereal bowl as your shape. It all depends on what you plan on doing with them or how you want to serve ‘em.

BOURBON WHIPPED CREAM

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons good quality bourbon

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the three ingredients together with the whisk attachment until they’re thickened. Check the taste, add more sugar or bourbon as needed, by the 1/4 teaspoon.
  2. Continue beating until the whipped cream is the proper thickness, but don’t whip too much… you’ll get bourbon butter!

You can also save the whipped cream overnight, but you’ll definitely have to re-whip it before you eat it again. It kind of re-softens and loses it’s whipped character the longer it sits. Remember- this is fresh whipped cream, not store-bought. There are no preservatives! It has to be re-whipped after it sits for any lengthy period of time. Also, just as an FYI- this would work with any liquor of the following: brandy, bourbon, whiskey, and vodka. Which wouldn’t really give it much of a flavor, unless you used flavored vodka. Which might be interesting.

Major thanks to both my orange ramekins & that maple pumpkin custard recipe (which really is delicious, and I highly recommend it) for inspiring me to create these. Maple & pumpkin, & bourbon. Nom nom. Although… I do think it might be time for me to make a full-size pie again. Soon.

And I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving! I can’t believe it’s only 3 days away. Time is flying…

The Friday Fifteen: Halloween edition!

Lately, it’s been pretty busy around here. First the giveaway, then TOTB Thursday, and now today is Friday. You might remember a few weeks ago I started a new feature here at the blog called The Friday Fifteen. And not only that, but it’s almost Halloween! Just five days left. There’s a lot of Halloween-related fun going on in both the internet world and the “real life” world (whatever that is). Candy, aprons, pumpkins, OH MY!

This year my jack-o-lantern is Edgar Allan Poe, my very favorite literary figure.

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It’s not my best work ever, no. The pumpkin was crazy thick! I had a hell of a time scraping it thin enough to cut and even then I screwed up a little bit in some spots, but all in all it bears enough of a resemblance. So anyway… all that stuff together means it’s time forThe Friday Fifteen: Halloween edition.

Oh. I almost forgot! Congratulations to Kate G, the winner of the Dia de los Muertos/Sourpuss Clothing giveaway! Enjoy it! And I wanna see pics!

  1. This amazing vector drawing of a girl with Day of the Dead skull makeup by MW-1991 on DeviantART. Gorgeous, and my new desktop wallpaper. She matches my sugar skulls from Sourpuss Clothing, too, doesn’t she?
  2. Speaking of Dia de los Muertos, it’s coming up soon. I love this day & what it represents. Please read up about it if you aren’t familiar with the actual history of it… or at least read the Wikipedia page. Then check out my Day of the Dead posts from years’ past. It’s just a beautiful concept.
  3. These Halloween cookies by Sweetopia are so awesome! I remember seeing them last year but I think they’re worth seeing again… as is everything Marian does.
  4. Universal Classic Monsters horror movies. They’re all on constant rotation this time of year, but most especially my girl, The Bride of Frankenstein.
  5. Halloween treats from Bakerella: candy corn cake pops & spider web cake pops, plus some other oldies but goodies from previous years. Very cute, and great to make with kids. Love them!
  6. Fantastic Halloween cocktail ideas.
  7. And you need something to put those cocktails or shots in, right? Well Sourpuss Clothing has your back in that department. Check out these babies!
  8. Elementary, Grimm, Once Upon a Time & Copper. Fall TV rocks.
  9. Sprinkle Bakes made an amazing “Batty” Battenburg cake & green punch last year that you should really check out.
  10. Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite authors, ever, like I said above… and The Raven is one of my favorite poems, ever. I even recited it (in it’s entirety) at a high school coffee house event once. And what could be better than The Raven for Halloween? Christopher Walken reading The Raven. You’re welcome.
  11. Williams-Sonoma Halloween plates. Shut. The. Front. Door. If there was someone in front of me right now I’d punch them just out of the sheer awesomeness of those plates.
  12. Every year at Halloween, I get super excited to see any and all references to The Headless Horseman, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & the Van Tassel family, because I’m related to them (by marriage, not blood)! It’s also one of my favorite stories.
  13. Carving my jack-o-lantern! I wait for that every year since I was a little kid. So much fun. And you get to eat the guts & seeds! That’s right. Pumpkin muffins made from the cut out pieces of jack-o-lanterns. I’ve been doing it since I was in kindergarten. If you haven’t done your jack-o-lantern yet, then try it. They’re super yummy and pretty healthy. Tons of fun for kids, too. If you’ve never done it, then I suggest you do it. Just try it once. It’s messy but so much fun!
  14. Martha’s Halloween costume ideas are always great. I wish the people who came to my place trick-or-treating with their kids looked that cool.
  15. The M·A·C Venomous Villains Maleficent ‘Dark Deed’ lipstick I’ll be wearing on Halloween. My favorite dark color.

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If you’re still looking for last minute ideas, then you might want to check out my Halloween archives! There’s a ton of stuff in there, from cupcakes to cookies to everything else you can imagine. But I’ll be back in a few days with even more Halloween fun…

DIY at it’s best: pumpkin spice latte’s at home.

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My mom is one of those people for whom the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte means autumn has officially started. Whether it’s the Starbucks version, Dunkin Donuts version, or in K-cup form… she’s a pumpkin coffee addict. So I was pretty psyched to see this on Pinterest. I pinned it just for her to see & make, but she recruited me to make it for her. Have I mentioned I’m a great daughter? Mind you, I don’t even particularly like pumpkin spice lattes myself. Yeah, I’ll maybe have one each season… but I’m by no means obsessed. I like my coffee straight, I’m not one for flavorings.

But if you too are one of those fanatical pumpkin latte people, I present to you something that quite possibly will save you a lot of money:

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I think this is one of those “best hidden secrets on the web.” Because as many people there are who know about it, most of the people I know didn’t. But they should. ‘Cause it’s insanely easy to make and costs practically nothing. So thank you to Farmgirl Gourmet for her genius idea to create this! I never would’ve thought to put actual pumpkin in a latte- silly me. If you factor in the cost of all of this stuff, and divide it into how many lattes it’ll make, I guarantee you you’ll see a humongous savings, especially if you buy one every day.

Let’s break it down & see:

  1. 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin (Libby brand) – $1.79 – one can is enough for 7 1/2 batches – one batch costs roughly .25¢
  2. 1.12 oz. pumpkin pie spice (McCormick) – $5.99 – one container is enough for 13 1/2 batches – one batch costs roughly .44¢
  3. Quart of milk – $3.50 – one quart is enough for 2 batches – one batch costs $1.75
  4. 4 oz. pure vanilla extract (Rodelle) – $7.99 – one bottle is enough for 4 batches – one batch costs $1.99
  5. 4 lb. bag sugar (Domino) – $3.99 – one bag is enough for 74 batches – one batch costs .05¢

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.25 + .44 + 1.75 + 1.99 + .05 = $4.48

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Okay, so by that reasoning (and omitting the coffee price itself, because that’s too large of a range to even incorporate), each batch made at home (which makes anywhere from 2-4 lattes) costs $4.48. So each latte costs $2.24, or, if you’re more frugal with it and get 4 lattes out of each batch, $1.12. Now I’m bad at math, but if I did that correctly (and I hope I did, but I welcome any & all mathematical corrections) even factoring in the cost of coffee, you’re still way ahead of the game. WAY AHEAD. Even if you figure in the whipped cream you’re still good. And if you made your own pumpkin pie spice, it’d be even cheaper. Seriously! Look how much money that saves! And of course, all of that is assuming you use name brand products, and that you use each product just for the latte mix, which isn’t practical, because of course you’d be using at least the milk & sugar for other things, if not the vanilla too. Factor that in and you’re paying less because those are items you already have/use. So yup. Major savings, and major thanks to Farmgirl Gourmet for creating it …you can thank me for turning you on to it, too.

I mean… you’ll have all that pumpkin left over from the muffins, right? ‘Cause you bought those jumbo cans of it while it was on sale, right? Right. Although I’d never expect you to go shopping & not stop in to buy one at your favorite coffee shop. That’s just cruel.

PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE (directly from Farmgirl Gourmet)

Makes about 2 10-ounce lattes of pumpkin-y goodness

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups milk (any kind)
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, doesn’t matter)
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) strong black coffee, hot
  • whipped cream for topping

Directions:

  1. Put the first 5 ingredients in a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture almost to a boil, stirring almost constantly to prevent scorching also while making sure all the powdery stuff and sugar is dissolved and not stuck to the bottom.
  2. Put the hot mixture in a blender, and mix until it’s frothy, 2 minutes. Pour into a mug, about halfway (depending on the size of the mug). Gently and slowly pour the coffee in down the side of the mug so you don’t ruin the “froth.”
  3. Top with whipped cream, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and drink!

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I poured it into jars for storage in the fridge. How long they’ll last I don’t know, because my mother is having hers every day (and she already went through the original 2 jars and is on the second batch). She just takes out the jar, gives it a little shake, then pours out the amount she wants to use into a saucepan. Then she heats it up (very quickly!) and uses it right away. I will also say this: if you aren’t normally into these, you might want to give the homemade version a try. It’s probably a lot healthier than the fancy coffee chain ones, and you can personalize it & play around with it to suit you.

For the uber pumpkin experience, I highly recommend enjoying one of your new DIY lattes with one of these bad boys. You’re welcome.

Credit: Etsy user ExLibrisJournals

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I am the Pumpkin King! Er, Queen.

Well, it’s October. Time really flew by, didn’t it? This means it’s time for my Annual Autumnal baking frenzy.

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In my house, there never really needs to be a reason for a baking frenzy. With me, you never hear anyone say “You baked? What’s the occasion?” As a matter of fact, it’s more like, “You didn’t bake this week?! Why? WHAT HAPPENED!?”

And I’m actually pretty proud of that. I’m proud of being the kitchen witch I am. But over the summer, it’s rare that I bake every week. Usually in the summer it’s ice cream, frozen yogurt, and jams/jellies/pickles. When the mercury goes up, the baking is reserved for cooler days, late nights, special fresh fruits that beg to be incorporated into something other than jam, and summer birthdays. That’s not to say it never happens. It just has to happen when my kitchen (the hottest room in the house) isn’t rivaling a Russian banya for the hottest place in the world award. But that’s why I welcome fall. Even though the temperatures take a while to catch up, and it stays pretty warm until Halloween most years (except last year when we had snow before Halloween), it’s still much less humid and much more comfortable once mid-September hits. And then by the time it’s October? Forget it. Because of that, fall in my house is usually a cavalcade, or cornucopia if you will, of delicious baked goods. Hey- I’ve been saving it up practically all summer! And what a great time it is for baking.

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See October isn’t just when kids start wishing school was ending already and the stores begin putting out Christmas decorations or when the weather cools down enough so I get to scratch that baking itch (that I suppress all summer). It’s pumpkins. It’s apples. It’s fall leaves. It’s harvest moons. It’s Halloween. Ohh man. I’m bananas for Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday, and I go all out. I decorate like crazy, I carve pumpkins, and I bake Halloween-themed things the entire month! Yeah, I know, I kinda do that stuff for every holiday, though this time of year is my definite favorite. I get a feeling in the pit of my stomach as soon as the wind changes and the air gets crisper. I can’t even describe to you how excited I get for Halloween. And for the past few years I’ve done a sort of compilation post for each season/holiday, including Halloween. I usually keep it at cupcakes, but I add in some candies or cookies, maybe throw in a muffin or two. However I thought maybe this year I’d forgo that, seeing as how there’s the new Recipe Index that lists basically every single recipe (almost) that I’ve ever posted. But you can also always check back to see last year’s Halloween Compilation post, and the one from the year before. You can also just see last year’s Halloween tricks & treats: here, here, here, here, here & finally here. Although you’d be missing out on some great stuff from previous years!

This year I decided to just start right in with the baking, ’cause honestly I got a little tired of all the compiling. I never was very good at filing & collating, I’d make a shitty secretary.

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So instead of spending my time doing all that work, I just made these pumpkin cheesecake cupcakes instead. Mmm hmm. You’re welcome. For the people out there wondering what exactly they are… it’s a pumpkin cupcake, topped with some “cheesecake filling” and then some cinnamon crumb.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE CUPCAKES

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
Cheesecake filling:
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, (softened)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
Crumb topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F degrees. Line a 24-cup cupcake pan with paper liners. In a small mixing bowl, combine topping ingredients. Blend with fork until crumbly. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and all-spice; set aside- that’s your crumb topping. In another larger bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
  3. In another medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth. That’s your cheesecake filling. Set it aside.
  4. Divide the pumpkin batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Top each with around 1/2 tablespoon to one full tablespoon of the cheesecake filling, then sprinkle with some crumb topping.
  5. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake part (not the cheesecake part) comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

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For me, now, it’s officially fall. And more important… it’s officially Halloween-time. The first pumpkin recipe of the year! And not just pumpkin but cream cheese too? So much better than a pumpkin pie. So much better than a regular pumpkin cupcake. So much better than your average pumpkin muffin. You can’t take a pie with you to work- but these you can. And pumpkin cupcakes & muffins don’t have this special added cream cheesy fun on top (unless… unless it’s these pumpkin muffins, then yes, they do). They’re moist, pumpkin-y, cheesecake-y, cinnamon-y, spicy, warming and filling, too. One cupcake is more than enough at once. It’s definitely not the kind you can just inhale one after another. And just so you know, I made 18 cupcakes and one 8″ cake layer with this recipe. The cake had to bake longer, but came out delicious, and it would probably make a great layer cake. Also, it would be excellent baked in a 9″ loaf pan, too. Or maybe two loaf pans if you’re using the entire recipe & not just half.

Also, the pumpkin recipe itself, without the cheesecake filling & crumb topping, makes a spectacular cupcake. Just frost it with whatever frosting you want.

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But a deep burnt orange colored pumpkin cupcake with a creamy cheesecake filling slash topping & some semi-crunchy brown sugar crumb on top? Sign. Me. The hell. Up.

Happy Samhain.

Samhain (play /ˈsɑːwɪn/, /ˈs.ɪn/, or /ˈsn/)[1] derived from the Old Irish Samuin meaning “summer’s end”,[11] was the first and the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish and Scottish[12] calendar[13][14] and, falling on the last day of autumn, it was a time for stock-taking and preparation for the cold winter months ahead.[11] It’s better known as a Gaelic harvest festival, which is held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the “Celtic New Year” from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer.[2] The date of Samhain was associated with the Catholic All Saints’ Day (and later All Souls’ Day) from at least the 8th century, and both the secular Gaelic and the Catholic liturgical festival have influenced the secular customs now connected with Halloween.[3]

The medieval Goidelic festival of Samhain marked the end of the harvest, the end of the “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half”. It was celebrated over the course of several days and had some elements of a Festival of the Dead. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. People and their livestock would often walk between two bonfires as a cleansing ritual, and the bones of slaughtered livestock were cast into its flames.[4]

There was also a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen.[13][14] To ward off these spirits, the Gaels built huge, symbolically regenerative bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice.[11] In the Western Isles of Scotland the Sluagh, or fairy host was regarded as composed of the souls of the dead flying through the air, and the feast of the dead at Hallowe’en was likewise the festival of the fairies.[15]

Samhain is celebrated as a religious festival by some neopagans.[5]

 

- Wikipedia

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Oh hey, pumpkin.

Halloween is a big holiday for me. It’s not only my favorite, it’s just an all-around great holiday to decorate & bake for. I know I’ve mentioned that before. I’ve also mentioned before that I just love Martha Stewart’s specialty holiday magazines. Each year for Halloween & Christmas I’m like a crackhead feenin’ for her fix- I have to buy her Halloween magazine & Holiday magazine. Sure, her regular magazine is cool too but I’m all about the holidays. And of course the covers always pull me in when I’m on line at the supermarket anyway. “Ooh look, Martha’s dressed up as a moth-woman! It’s a must buy issue!” That and I’m pretty much a boring chick. Really. Yes, I have this “glamorous” blog that is world-renowned, this art-school slash fashion background, yes I’m the significant other of a police officer slash death metal bassist, yes I have a sidecut & nose ring & listen to some interesting music. But the highlight of my week last week was buying pumpkins on sale (that weren’t gross & motley because of Hurricane Irene) & getting spiffy new glasses. No, seriously. I got new glasses & I’m that psyched about it. As if I wasn’t already a nerd! You’d think my life would be a bit more exciting, but this is it. I get giggly over new spectacles & holiday craft magazines. So yes. I enjoy reading all of Queen Martha’s magazines & I’m that sucker who’ll buy one each freakin’ year season holiday..

This particular year, well since July anyway, has been a bit off for me; I’ve been dealing with a lot of shit & basically didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to do for any of the holidays. So I basically used Martha’s ideas. For Halloween, I should say, since that’s the only holiday that’s relevant so far. Yeah, it’s not the most imaginative, but really… is anything new? Everything has really been done before anyway. All we do is just recycle old ideas & implement them in slightly different ways, or “freshen” them up for the current social climate. At least that’s what I keep telling myself when I feel bad about not coming up with something amazing myself this year & I end up using an old idea or one of someone else’s.

But even though I felt guilty about not doing something ingenious & unique, had to do something holiday-appropriate. This is my favorite holiday, for goodness sakes! And let’s face it, being that I’m related (albeit by marriage) to the famous Van Tassel’s of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow fame, anything spooky & creepy & bizarre is an event I must participate in. Only if I were related to Mary Shelley or Bram Stoker or Washington Irving himself would it make me more of a Halloween-head. Seriously. Headless Horsemen, scarecrows, zombies, jack-o-lanterns, vampires, witches, black cats; bring it on. I’m not only ready for ‘em, I welcome ‘em!

So these cupcakes, regardless of how simple, are pretty awesome looking, I gotta say. Simple, but fun. Retro.

It sorta looks like they’re running away from the jack-o-lantern, doesn’t it?

I just fell in love with the vintage cat clip-art/cupcake toppers she had in her magazine this year. It reminded me of some of the cardboard cut-outs my grandmother used to hang every Halloween, some of which were her mother’s. Aren’t they awesome? Both the cut-outs and the cupcake toppers. Oh- and that cake plate, which rocks my socks so hardcore because it came with a pink satin ribbon, but I can change the ribbon for every holiday and IT ALWAYS LOOKS AWESOME. Plus it gives me a really good reason to buy cute ribbon for every single holiday.

So yes, I made cupcakes & I had no idea what to do to decorate them. Turns out, the little cupcakes I made looked pretty close to exact to the ones Ms. Stewart had in her magazine; cupcakes in orange liners with these vintage-y cat faces. So that’s what I decided to do. On half of the cupcakes I put those cat face toppers, and on the other half, I went with marzipan pumpkins.

Marzipan pumpkins that I made, myself. However I didn’t make the marzipan (I’m not insane)- I bought it. It was golden colored Dr. Oetker marzipan that I bought at an import market (where I buy my English chocolate & Irish tea). So no I didn’t totally make them. But I divided it, colored it, I rolled it up, sculpted it and painted it. Or one, anyway.

Yep, that little jack-o-lantern dude there. Here’s a better view, in natural light.

You could obviously use fondant for the same effect, however I find that marzipan is tastier, so people don’t mind it as much. Sure, fondant looks pretty… but it tastes like an old diaper. Marzipan tastes like almonds & isn’t at all tough or rubbery, it has a really nice soft texture. It was also perfect because it was already a golden color, so I didn’t have to add much color to it to achieve a nice pumpkin color, and the green took to it really well too. It would be much easier to make faces if you get a black edible pen. I used black food coloring & a toothpick, which is why I stopped at one. I always have to make things harder on myself.

The cupcake recipe is a modified Martha recipe in & of itself, the frosting is a stabilized whipped cream one via Wilton that I felt was perfect with cupcakes that taste like pumpkin pie. Speaking of, the recipe supposedly makes 18 but I got closer to 24. The frosting recipe should frost that much, unless you pile it on super high.

PUMPKIN PIE CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground all-spice
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and all-spice; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree.
  3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

STABILIZED WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING
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Ingredients:
  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Piping Gel
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Combine whipping cream and sugar in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  2. Add piping gel and vanilla, then continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat.

I piped the frosting on with a large round tip, then used a tapered spatula to create a sort of fluffy pillowy look. The orange liners are from Bake It Pretty. Unfortunately, the cat faces are only available in the magazine (as far as I can tell), and I can’t scan them & post them as that would be a copyright violation of some sort, I’m sure. The last lady who’s bad side I want to get on is hers, so you’ll have to figure that one out for yourself. If you don’t want to buy the magazine to get them, there are lots of other vintage cat clip-art options on the ‘net, and I think on her website Martha has other images available for print-out. Alternately, in Michael‘s & JoAnn‘s craft stores they sell a pretty extensive collection of awesome cupcaking materials.

You could also use a marshmallow frosting or a 7-minute frosting on these with stellar results.

Those vintage black ruffle candle holders were my grandma’s too… she had some awesome stuff

And this is not the last time you’ll be seeing Martha-inspired content this season. Trust me when I say my entire Halloween tableau & menu this year is almost entirely from her. I’m not even kidding when I say I didn’t have an original thought in my head this season. Well, in the aspect of treats, anyway. As far as other things, i.e. decorating, I held my own pretty well, as usual. Here’s my annual Halloween “tree” & hanging lanterns:

I don’t know if I mentioned it lately, but it’s really awesome having a blog/website. I can look up previous years’ holiday cupcakes, etc. with the click of a mouse, & each recipe & post is archived for me chronologically. Its like a virtual online cookbook or ‘idea book’ that I can access anytime I want to. It’s pretty effin’ spectacular. I hope it’s just as spectacular for you, too, to access all of that. There may be many blogs out there: lots of them are great, some may be nothing more than clones of others, but I hope either way you all come here because mine gives you a little something different. Or because I’m crazy. Whatever. I’ll take what I can get. You’re all amazing too!

Anyway like I mentioned before, with each post this year I’ll be posting a brief story on a Halloween tradition that has it’s origins in Celtic myths/legends. Here’s another for you…

There is an old Irish legend about an Irishman named Jack who liked to drink a little too much.

Long ago on a cold, lonely Halloween night, as Jack staggered home from another night of over indulging, the devil appeared to take his soul. But Jack was a cunning Irishman. He tricked the devil into climbing a nearby tree to pick him a lovely apple for his final meal. While the devil was picking his fruit Jack carved a Celtic cross on the tree trunk. The devil couldn’t cross such a sacred symbol and was trapped in the tree. Jack only let the Devil pass when he promised never again try to claim his soul. Well eventually Jack finally died from the drink. But poor Jack was denied entrance into heaven because of his drunken ways on earth. So Jack then tried to enter the gates of hell, but the devil, remembered his promise and denied Jack entry into hell. But the Devil was so impressed with his shrewdness he threw him a glowing hot coal to light his eternal wanderings. So Jack placed the red hot coal in a hollowed out turnip to form a make-shift “Lantern”.

You see there were no pumpkins in Ireland. Some legends say you can still see the fire of “Jack’s Lantern” as his spirit wanders the earth with nowhere to go. Years later all across Ireland people began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” or simply “Jack O’ Lantern.” So the next time you look down the dark road and see that glowing light in the distance, be careful. Because it just might be Jack, Jack of the Lantern!

- source The Irish Jewelry Company