Sweeten up fall with pumpkins


Cream cheese frosting tops these pumpkin cookies suited to any autumn occasion.

Cream cheese frosting tops these pumpkin cookies suited to any autumn occasion. Photo by: tasteofhome.com


These cranberry pumpkin muffins also include cinnamon and allspice.

These cranberry pumpkin muffins also include cinnamon and allspice.
Photo by: choosemyplate.gov



Jan Swoope



Sure signs of fall are the pumpkins we're seeing at roadside stands, in grocery stores and in the remaining farmers' market days we have left to enjoy. We may sometimes forget how many varieties there really are. Some are best suited for front porch jack-o-lanterns. Others shine as tabletop decor. But today we're thinking about cooking with pumpkins, and for that we'll want to make good selections. Yes, all pumpkins are edible, but the best for baking are sweet varieties with smooth-textured flesh.


Look for those labeled sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins, advises thekitchn.com. Some include Autumn Gold, Lumina and Bab Pam. Other sweet choices include Cinderella pumpkins and peanut pumpkins, especially for baking pies, quick bread and other desserts, Keri Collins Lewis wrote for the Mississippi State Extension Service.


Cheese pumpkins, Lumina and Jarrahdale pumpkins are also good choices, says gardeningknowhow.com.



Pumpkins intended for food lean toward vibrant flavor, color and nutrition and contain dietary fiber, vitamins A, C and E and many more nutrients. We're entering the time of year where we begin to picture holiday tables topped by pumpkin pies. We've come a long way from the earliest "pies," when colonists cut the tops off pumpkins and filled the insides with milk, honey and spices then cooked it all in hot ashes.


There's plenty of advice online about prepping the pumpkin you intend to cook with. Or, if you're like me, you'll head to the canned pumpkin aisle on the next grocery trip. Keep a couple of cans in the pantry this fall for when the mood strikes to try out one of today's recipes or the host of others you'll quickly find in any internet search.





Prep: 30 minutes


Bake: 10 minutes+cooling


Makes 4 dozen



1 cup butter, softened


2/3 cup packed brown sugar


1/3 cup sugar


1 large egg


1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup canned pumpkin


2 cups all-purpose flour


1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1 teaspoon baking soda


1/2 teaspoon salt


1/4 teaspoon baking powder


1 cup chopped walnuts





1/4 cup butter, softened


4 ounces cream cheese, softened


2 cups confectioners' sugar


1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract



  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add pumpkin; mix well. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in walnuts.


  • Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.


  • In a small bowl, beat the frosting ingredients until light and fluffy. Frost cookies. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


    Tips: To soften cream cheese, let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses than light or golden brown sugar. The types are generally interchangeable in recipes, but if you prefer a bolder flavor, choose dark brown sugar.


    (Source: tasteofhome.com)





    Servings: 12



    2 cups flour


    3/4 cup sugar


    3 teaspoons baking powder


    1/2 teaspoon salt


    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


    3/4 teaspoon allspice


    1/3 cup vegetable oil


    2 eggs (large)


    3/4 cup pumpkin (canned)


    2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen chopped)



  • Preheat oven to 400 F.


  • Sift together dry ingredients (flour through allspice) and set aside.


  • Beat oil, eggs, and pumpkin together until well blended.


  • Add wet ingredients (pumpkin mixture) to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir until moistened. Fold in chopped cranberries. Spoon into paper lined muffin cups.


  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15-30 minutes.


    (Source: choosemyplate.gov)





    Servings: 10



    11 whole graham crackers, crushed (about 1-1/2 cups crumbs)


    1/4 cup sugar


    1/3 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted


    2 eight-ounce packages reduced fat or fat-free cream cheese, at room temperature


    1 cup packed light brown sugar


    2 cups fresh pumpkin puree or 16 ounce can solid pack pumpkin


    2 egg yolks and 4 egg whites


    1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg


    2 tablespoons flour


    2 tablespoons: whipping cream and Amaretto


    Whipped cream, optional



  • Preheat oven to 325 F.


  • In a 9-inch springform pan, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter.


  • Using your clean fingers, press the mixture evenly onto the bottom and sides of the pan.


  • Bake 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.


  • In a large bowl using electric mixer (or place directly in a food processor) whip cream cheese until smooth. Stir in brown sugar; blend until thoroughly mixed.


  • Add pumpkin and add egg yolks one at a time, blending after each addition until smooth.


  • Add 1/2 the egg whites at a time, blending well after each addition.


  • Add cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, Amaretto and whipping cream, stir to blend.


  • Pour mixture into prepared crust. Set springform pan in a large roasting pan and fill with 1/2 inch tap water. Bake 1 hour, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.


  • Remove from oven, chill 6 to 8 hours (or overnight) in the refrigerator. To serve, top with whipped cream if desired.


    (Source: web.extension.illinois.edu)





    Prep time: 15 minutes


    Servings: 4





    1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned or from scratch)


    1/3 cup almond butter (or crunchy peanut butter)


    2 tablespoons maple syrup


    1/8 teaspoon cinnamon



    Apple slices:


    24 slices golden delicious apple slices


    24 slices granny smith apple slices



  • Mix together dip ingredients. Serve with apple slices.


    (Source: Produce for Better Health, choosemyplate.gov)



  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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