Ah, October. The air is crisp, the leaves are bright and everything — seriously, everything — is pumpkin flavored. Beer, coffee, muffins, pie, gum, pasta, pizza — we’ve even heard tell of pumpkin spice-flavored Pringles. You’ve heard the rants before; hell, even we here at LEO have joined in the pumpkin bashing on occasion. But no amount of ranting and raving will stop the cinnamon and nutmeg slowly infiltrating your every meal. So we’ve decided on a different approach: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Now, we’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill pumpkin dishes here: no pies, no muffins, nothing in the ale or mocha vein. Instead, here we have three recipes guaranteed to have you reconsidering those globular orange gourds. There’s a non-pie dessert that’ll rock your socks off, scones to start your October mornings off right, and of course, this being the Louisville Eccentric Observer, a bourbon cocktail — here with an autumnal twist. If you’re truly in the locavore spirit, you could head up to Huber’s, harvest yourself some pumpkins and do the cooking and pureeing yourself. As far as we’re concerned, that just cuts into your old-fashioned drinkin’ time. But hey, to each her own.
(a fall staple in my house)
Courtesy of my mother and the St. Mary’s Episcopal School fourth-grade potluck
1¾ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
6 tbsp melted butter
Combine and press into a 13X9 baking dish. It helps if you lightly grease the dish first.
One 8 oz. package of softened light cream cheese or Neufchâtel
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup sugar
Beat cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy, then add eggs. Mix well. Spread over crust and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Two small packs of instant vanilla pudding
¾ cups milk
One can (2 cups) pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling — the au natural stuff)
Pumpkin pie spice (to taste)
One 8 oz. carton of light whipped topping
Combine pudding and milk. Beat for two minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add pumpkin and spice. Mix well. Stir in one cup of whipped topping. Spread over cream cheese layer.
Spread the remaining whipped topping over the pudding layer. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Chill and enjoy!
Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Brown Butter Glaze
(the best thing to hit mornings since programmable coffee makers)
Makes about 12 scones. Courtesy of Joy the Baker (If you aren’t reading her blog yet, put this paper down right now and go look her up: joythebaker.com), recipe adapted from Mockingbird Bakery
3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk, cold
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons whole milk
Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all of the spices. Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Using your fingers, break the butter down into the dry ingredients. Work quickly so that the butter remains cold. Some of the butter will be the size of oat flakes; others will be the size of small peas. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients, all at once, to the dry ingredients. Stir together until almost thoroughly combined. Add pecans and stir until no dry flour bits remain.
Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop scones dough by the ½-cupful onto the prepared baking sheet. Leave about 2-inches of space between each scone. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until browned slightly with dry tops. You can insert a toothpick into the center of a scone to test for doneness. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze, in a small saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat. The butter will begin to crackle and pop. After the crackling subsides a bit, the butter will begin to brown. Continue to cook until the butter smells nutty and the butter solids begin to brown. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, browned butter, vanilla and two tablespoons of milk. Whisk together and add more milk as necessary until your desired consistency is reached. Generously drizzle scones with glaze. These scones are best served within two days of baking (although we’ll be impressed if they make it that long).
(i.e. the only “pumpkin” drink you’ll meet this season that actually contains pumpkin — we’re lookin’ at you, Pumpkin Spice Latte)
Courtesy of the Saveur magazine test kitchen
2 tbsp. pumpkin puree
1½ oz. bourbon
1 oz. maple syrup
½ oz. Grand Marnier
dash orange bitters
Orange peel twist, for garnish
Combine pumpkin puree, bourbon, maple syrup, Grand Marnier and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain through a fine mesh strainer (nobody likes pumpkin pulp in their drink) into a chilled old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with orange twist.