Pumpkin Crunch Cake

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

In Hawaii during fall and Thanksgiving, pumpkin crunch cake is the most-searched recipe on the Internet. As an alternative to pumpkin pie, this dessert holds up well in a tropical climate, can serve lots of local people, is relatively easy to prepare and complements the other ethnic dishes served at potlucks. We have made pumpkin crunch cake for autumn-themed parties and Thanksgiving get-togethers on the mainland and it is a crowd-pleaser. This favorite fall dessert is especially perfect for celebrating National Pumpkin Day!

Recipe

(From Phyllis S.)

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and lightly cooled
  • whipped cream (optional frosting)

Directions

Line the bottom of a 9×13” pan with waxed paper. Mist the bottom and sides with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the canned pumpkin and canned evaporated milk. Beat in the eggs. Add the salt.

Mix in the pumpkin pie spice. Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the yellow cake mix evenly over the entire top of the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Pour the melted/cooled butter all over the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (test the cake for doneness with a toothpick). Cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate to set. Invert the pumpkin crunch on a tray and cut into squares. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream (optional).

Notes

  • Smother whipped cream on the cooled cake as a frosting before serving.
  • For potlucks, we omit the whipped cream, cut the cake into 48 pieces and place them in cupcake papers for easy self-serve.
  • Thanks to our friend, Phyllis S., a Hawaii expatriate now living in Texas, for sharing this recipe with us. She served pumpkin crunch cake when she and her husband Pat S. entertained us and other people at their home and it was nostalgic for the locals!
  • Search our blog for other fall favorite foods or pumpkin recipes.

 

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

Remember the story of Cinderella where her fairy godmother transformed a plain pumpkin into a pretty carriage? Well, we also made some magic on a basic bundt and dressed it up in the glorious colors of autumn. Although it isn’t as simple as waving a wand, decorating the cake is actually do-able, even for beginners.

For this particular post, we baked a chocolate pumpkin spice cake, glazed it in decadent chocolate, drizzled it with a pumpkin-colored/pumpkin flavored confectioner’s coating (candy melts) and sprinkled it with seasonal nonpareils (fall leaves). Like Cinderella entering the grand ball, this cake is sure to be a showstopper at seasonal social gatherings as well!

Add your personal and magic touch to a plain chocolate pumpkin spice cake and get creative in decorating it. What a way to celebrate National Pumpkin Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Chocolate from the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn)

For the chocolate pumpkin spice cake

  • 1 box German chocolate cake mix (we used Duncan Hines brand)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine the chocolate cake mix, pumpkin and eggs.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Add the cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend well. Fold the cinnamon chips into the cake batter. Spread evenly into a greased bundt pan.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, testing the cake for doneness. Remove from the oven. Cool completely in the pan before inverting onto a wire rack over a foil-lined lipped pan.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

For the chocolate glaze and decorations

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) semisweet chocolate (baking squares or chips)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup orange candy melts (we used Wilton’s seasonal pumpkin flavor)
  • colorful seasonal candy sprinkles (optional)

Directions

In a microwave-safe bowl, place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup. Heat until melted. Mix until smooth. Drizzle on the top of the cake and let the glaze run down the sides.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

In a microwave-safe cup, melt the orange candy melts. Spoon in a decorator’s bag outfitted with a small round tip. Being careful not to burn your hand, drizzle on top of the glazed cake in a back and forth motion all around. Finish by sprinkling some colorful seasonal candies on top. Let the topping set. Serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Notes

  • Add a teaspoon or two of vegetable shortening to the candy melts for a thinner consistency.
  • Sprinkles can be black and orange jimmies, Halloween nonpareils or autumn leaves (like we used for this recipe) to reflect the fall flavors and season.
  • Search our blog for other pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Pie

(Gluten and Dairy Free)

Pumpkin Pie (Allergy-Free)

December 25: National Pumpkin Pie Day

“Rockin’ around the Christmas tree

Let the Christmas spirit ring

Later we’ll have some pumpkin pie

And we’ll do some caroling!”

Now Islander can enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie without worrying that it will bloat her belly like a bowl full of jelly because the recipe that follows features gluten- and dairy-free ingredients!

She found gluten-free pie crusts in the freezer section at Whole Foods market, used coconut instead of cow’s milk and sweetened the batter with maple syrup (hence, our pie is decked out with maple leaves molded from pumpkin-flavored Candy Melts).

Those suffering from food allergies can try this delicious dessert with or without the crust. So celebrate Christmas and National Pumpkin Pie Day with a sweet slice of gluten- and dairy-free pumpkin pie.

Recipe

(Adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

Ingredients

  • 1 9-inch gluten-free pie crust, baked
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 can (14 ounces) coconut milk (use full fat Thai Kitchen brand)
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoon agar-agar powder (do not use bar or flakes)
  • ¾ cup water

Directions

Pre-bake the pie crust according to the package directions. Set aside to cool completely.

Pumpkin Pie (Allergy-Free)

In the blender container, combine the pumpkin, maple syrup and coconut milk.

Pumpkin Pie (Allergy-Free)

Add the tapioca flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt and vanilla.

Pumpkin Pie (Allergy-Free)

Blend until smooth. Set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the agar-agar powder in water. Simmer to thicken, about 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the pumpkin batter. Bring to a boil and stir until thickened (another 2-3 minutes). Immediately pour into the pie crust. Cool at room temperature then transfer to the refrigerator. When chilled, slice and serve.

Pumpkin Pie (Allergy-Free)

Notes

  • Take a taste test to compare this with a traditional pumpkin pie (see the regular recipe on our blog). The crust is crisp without a buttery taste. The filling is firm and gelatinous and not as creamy. But it is a nice alternative for those with food allergies. Even our friends who can tolerate gluten and dairy do not mind eating this pumpkin pie with us.
  • For another no-bake pumpkin pie, try it St. Martha-style using lactose-free milk.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

 October 26: National Pumpkin Day

Pumpkin pie is popular around this time of the year, with Halloween and Thanksgiving coming soon. Besides putting pumpkin in desserts, we also prepare it in a pot of soup when we want to eat something simple yet spicy to warm us up on a cool fall day. This quick and easy recipe uses fat-free and low-sodium ingredients, making it healthier for harvest-style meals. Savor a spiced pumpkin soup this season and on National Pumpkin Day.

Recipe
(Adapted from Parade newsmagazine via Dash Recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5-6 pods of cardamom (or ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom); discard pods before pureeing soup in the blender
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken broth (use fat-free, low sodium broth)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk (use fat-free)
  • plain yogurt (use plain fat-free Greek yogurt)
  • cilantro or parsley leaves (optional garnish)

Directions

Chop the onions and mince the garlic cloves. Set aside. In a stock pot, heat the oil.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Saute the onion and garlic until the onions are soft. Stir in the curry powder, cumin and cardamom.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Pour in the chicken broth.  Add the pumpkin and mix well. Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in the evaporated milk and adjust the spices.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Transfer in batches to a blender. Puree then return to the pot to reheat. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with plain yogurt and cilantro or parsley leaves  (optional).

Spiced Pumpkin Soup 

Notes

  • Search our blog for more soup recipes and posts containing pumpkin as an ingredient.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

October 21: National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day

We always enjoyed fall at the farms when we lived in northern Illinois for five years. During the harvest season, the farmers would host festivals and open houses to showcase their bounty of vegetables. We had fun sampling the ciders and hot cocoa, buying fresh-baked pies and other goodies at the country-style marketplace, watching people get lost in the corn maze and purchasing a pumpkin for Halloween.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Highlander would carve jack-o-lanterns out of it instead of pureeing the pumkin for pies, soups and cakes (although once in a while, he would roast the seeds for a snack). We just use the convenient canned pumpkin in recipes, such as cheesecake. We make them mini-sized to share at social gatherings during the season. Mini pumpkin cheesecakes are perfect for Halloween and Thanksgiving and especially on National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Karo Syrup)

Ingredients

  • 24 gingersnap cookies
  • 1 ½ (12 ounces) blocks of cream cheese
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup (we used Karo brand)
  • whipped cream (we used Cool Whip brand)

Directions

Place a gingersnap cookie on the bottom of 24 cupcake liners. In a large bowl, cream the cheese with the sugar and corn starch until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin pie spice. Beat in the eggs. Stir in the pumpkin.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Blend in the corn syrup. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners. Tap the bottom of the muffin tins to let the batter settle smoothly.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until just set. Remove from the oven. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until firm or for at least an hour. Garnish with whipped cream (optional).

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Notes

  • Illinois is among the top pumpkin-producing states in America. The town of Morton, home to the Nestle brand pumpkin packing plant (and where more than 90% of canned pumpkins eaten in the country are processed), is known as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”
  • The pumpkins pictured above are from Randy’s Vegetables. We have also visited Kuiper’s Family Farm and other pumpkin patches in the past while living in Illinois.
  • Search our blog for other pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

December 25: National Pumpkin Pie Day

Although pumpkin pie is a prominent dessert on Thanksgiving, it also is appropriate on Christmas, especially when a tasty traditional turkey is served instead of ham or roast beef. In fact, pumpkie pie is mentioned in at least three Christmas songs, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” “Sleigh Ride” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

We prefer to prepare our pumpkin pie from semi-scratch (the pumpkin puree is canned and the deep-dish crust is frozen) a day or two before the big feast day to minimize any last-minute mania in the kitchen. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy National Pumpkin Pie Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Libby’s)

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) canned pure pumpkin (we used Libby’s brand)
  • ¾ cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie crust

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the canned pumpkin. Gradually add the sugar and spice mixture and blend everything well.

Pumpkin Pie

Add the evaporated milk and mix well.  Pour into the pie crust. Put the pie on a baking sheet and line the edge with foil or pie crust shields to prevent overbrowning. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake for another 40-50 minutes (use a toothpick in the center to test for doneness). Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate to set. Slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream (optional).

Pumpkin Pie

Notes

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

Pumpkins are popular during the autumn season. With today being National Pumpkin Day, Halloween only a few days away and Thanksgiving in just another month, there are plenty of opportunities to put pumpkin in a recipe!

For this particular post about pumpkins, we chose chocolate chips and pureed pumpkin to make muffins. But we also use the batter to bake it in a pumpkin-shaped pan for parties and potlucks. Prepare pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins as festive fare for the fall holidays.

Recipe

(Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor)

For the muffins

  • 1 box (17.8 ounces) chocolate chip muffin mix
(we used Duncan Hines brand)
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, place the muffin mix and pumpkin pie spice. Make a well in the middle and add the canned pumpkin, milk and egg. With a large spoon or spatula, blend well.  Scoop into a greased muffin tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes or until done. Remove from the oven and let cool for about five minutes in the muffin tin. Transfer muffins to a wire rack. Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar (optional).  Yield: A dozen muffins.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Bonus Recipe

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake

For the 3D pumpkin cake

Mix the muffin ingredients listed above except for the powdered sugar. Pour into a greased standup pumpkin-shaped cake pan to the rim of the bottom half. Cover with the top half of the pan, tying with kitchen twine to secure the cake in place as it bakes in the oven.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake

Place foil or another pan on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any leaking grease or cake batter. Place the pumpkin pan on the top rack. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for one hour. Remove from the oven. Cut the twine off and remove the top half of the pan carefully. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cake sit in the bottom half of the pan on a wire rack to cool for five minutes. Invert the cake onto the top half of the pan and leave it on the wire rack to cool completely (approximately six-to-eight hours). Remove from the pan. Stand up the pumpkin on a platter or a sturdy cake board. Make the frosting.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese (we used fat-free cream cheese)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons of water
  • orange food coloring (we used Wilton brand gel paste)
  • green tube frosting (we used Wilton brand)

Directions

In a mixer or mixing bowl, cream the cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla. Mix well until the desired frosting consistency is reached, thinning with water as necessary. Tint the frosting with orange food coloring, mixing thoroughly until evenly colored. Refrigerate the frosting to thicken slightly.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake

We used a star tip to pipe the entire surface of the pumpkin cake with orange and green frosting. We decorated the face with various candies.

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake

Notes

  • We doubled the recipe of the pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins to fill a pumpkin-shaped cake pan. Leftover batter was used to bake the muffins.
  • Thanks to a community of Marianist brothers for the gift of the retired Wilton standup pumpkin pan, which is now considered an antique collectible.
  • Search our blog for other posts about pumpkin recipes.