Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pumpkin Desserts

11/18/09 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

The countdown to Thanksgiving dinner is on! Personally, I’m ready for turkey day as soon as the air turns chilly and autumn leaves start to fall! You can count me in with those who look forward all year long to enjoying this feast of feasts.

It’s possible to cook up a traditional turkey dinner with stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie any time of the year. But it’s best when the family gathers in spirit (whether near or far) to count their blessings and share a bountiful harvest.

If your family is like ours, the menu is pretty much set in concrete. For some folks it just isn’t Thanksgiving without the infamous green bean casserole. Others don't enjoy stuffing unless it contains chestnuts. Some eat tofu and not turkey. Many enjoy cranberry gelatin salad but some don’t. Everyone, however, seems to agree that there must be dessert at the end of the meal.

Our family’s Thanksgiving dessert menu is delicious but predictably boring: We bake Pumpkin and Pecan Pies and sometimes a cheesecake for good measure. We always have ice cream for the little ones who don’t like pie and sometimes a tasty gingerbread cake.

All of our desserts are homemade. We never, ever, ever, serve store-bought desserts on Thanksgiving and you shouldn’t either. If you find it intimidating to make pie crust (or you’ve never tried) pick up a pre-made crust from the market; take it out of the box, put it in your pie pan and fill it with your own homemade filling. It will be delicious.

There’s a pumpkin dessert for everyone in the following recipes. The pumpkin chiffon pie will appeal to the ladies. The guys may prefer the more traditional recipe on a can of Libby’s pumpkin. The cream cheese pumpkin pie recipe is a lighter version of a traditional cheesecake and kids of all ages will like the gingerbread. Enjoy!

Aunt El’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
in a Gingersnap Pie Shell
“The Pioneer Lady’s Country Kitchen”

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3 eggs, separated into two bowls
1-1/4 cup cooked pumpkin
1/2 up light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar to beat into egg whites
1 gingersnap pie shell (recipe follows)
Whipped cream spiced with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and a sprinkling of freshly ground nutmeg

In a small bowl, soften the gelatin in the water 3-5 min. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and place in a medium size saucepan. Add the pumpkin, sugar, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt; stir to blend. Place over low heat and cook until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the gelatin.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Fold egg whites into the pumpkin mixture. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and chill until firm. Whip the cream just until soft peaks form; then spoon it evenly over the filling. Serve immediately. Makes one 9-inch pie.

Gingersnap Pie Shell

1-1/2 cups finely crushed gingersnap cookies
6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown or powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients, blending well. Pat the crumbs firmly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan.
Note: Graham Cracker crumbs may be substituted for gingersnaps.

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie
with streusel topping

9-inch pie shell
1 8-ounce pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg, beaten
1-1/4 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each nutmeg and salt

Streusel topping:
Mix together 2 teaspoons flour and 2 teaspoons brown sugar.
Add 2 teaspoons butter, softened and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Preheat oven to 350 ° F.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup sugar; add vanilla and 1 egg. Beat mixture until light and smooth. Chill mixture 30 min., then pour into pie shell.

In large bowl, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, 2 eggs, brown sugar, white sugar and spices. Mix thoroughly until all ingredients are combined. Pour the pumpkin mixture over cream cheese layer in pie shell. Cover crust edges with foil to prevent excess browning.

Bake 25 min.; remove foil from edges and bake an additional 25 min.
Remove pie from oven and sprinkle with pecan streusel. Bake another 10-15 min. until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and streusel is golden brown. Serves 8

Pumpkin Gingerbread

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
1/2 cup molasses
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon grated orange rind

Preheat oven to 325° F.

In a large mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In another bowl, stir together buttermilk, pumpkin and molasses. In yet another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir in orange rind.

Add one-half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Then add some of the liquid mixture, repeating until all ingredients are combined and batter is smooth. Transfer batter to a greased 9-inch square pan. Bake 45-50 min. or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Serve warm, garnished with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Whipped Cream: Beat 1 cup heavy cream until it forms soft peaks. Continue beating and gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, until stiff peaks are formed. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and serve immediately.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

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