Pumpkin Season

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Pumpkin patch, Davison Orchard, Vernon BC

Dear  Sister  the Younger made a truly wonderful Thanksgiving feast for us last weekend–turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings.  Dessert was this delightful Pumpkin Crunch cake.  It’s lighter than pumpkin pie, but with the same yummy spices and taste.  The original recipe called for cinnamon, but Dear Sister subbed pumpkin pie spice instead, and I really liked the depth of flavors from the additional spices.  And you know it’s good when even the non-dessert eaters enjoy a slice!  Sadly, I forgot to snap a picture, but click here for a peek.

Pumpkin Pecan Crunch

1 can (14-15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice OR cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1  yellow cake mix
1  cup pecan halves
1 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, spice and salt. Pour into greased 13×9 glass baking dish. Layer DRY cake mix evenly on top of pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle pecans on top of cake mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool to room temperature; serve with whipped cream.  Makes 12-15 pieces.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Note  To make a small batch of pumpkin pie spice, combine  3 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves, and if desired a pinch of cardamon.  Store the mixture in a clean small jar or spice container.

 

Thanksgiving Sunrise

Thanksgiving Sunrise

 

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Cherry Jubilee

We were invited to visit with some family and new friends on the weekend.  I made this dessert to take along.  It  goes together fairly quickly and always seems to be a hit.

Cherries n’ Cream

Cookie Crumble Crust:

1 cup butter plus 2 tbsp

2 1/4 cups flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

Filling:

1 250 g pkg cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 tsp almond extract

500 ml whipping cream

4 tbsp icing sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Topping:

1 can cherry pie filling

For crust, melt butter, then add flour, sugar, nuts and mix well.  Mixture will resemble a soft cookie dough.  Spread on a large, ungreased baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Stir mixture often as it bakes, breaking it apart into fine pieces.  After baking, let crumbs cool slightly.  Reserve one cup for topping, press remaining crumbs into a 9″x13″ baking pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes, being careful not to overbrown.  Remove from oven and cool.  A few minutes in the freezer will speed the process nicely.

Meanwhile, beat together whipping cream, icing sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate until needed.  Beat together cream cheese,  sugar and almond extract until smooth.  Fold whipped cream into cream cheese.  Spread  mixture onto cool crust.  Carefully layer cherry pie filling over cream cheese.  Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Strawberry Pavlova

There is some debate about who/when/where this dessert was first made, but little or no debate that it was made in honor of Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, in the 1920s or ’30s.  She was on a tour Down Under at the time.   There are many variations of pavlova.   Some recipes call for brown sugar instead of white.  The meringues can be formed into individual servings instead of one large circle.  Instead of strawberries, try raspberries, or kiwi, or blackberries, or peaches, or blueberries, or passionfruit, or any delicious combination thereof.  The filling is usually plain whipped cream,  but this recipe also adds some cream cheese.

Strawberry Pavlova

Meringue:

4 egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp vinegar

2 tsp vanilla

Filling:

1  cup whipping cream

4 oz cream cheese, softened

scant 1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp orange juice

Topping:

4 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form.  Beat in sugar, a little at a time, until stiff glossy peaks form.  Then beat in cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla.   On a parchment-lined baking sheet, mound the meringue to form a 10″ circle.  Bake at 275 degrees F for 1  hour or until firm to touch.  Turn oven off and let meringue cool in the oven for another hour.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Place meringue on serving plate.  Whip cream to firm peaks, set aside.  Beat cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar and orange juice.  Fold cream cheese mixture into whipped cream.  Just before serving, spread filling over meringue and decorate with sliced strawberries.  Cut into wedges to serve.  Makes 8 servings.

Notes on Meringues:    For this particular use, it’s important not to make the meringue too far ahead of time.  It can be made a day ahead, but not in humid weather, when it will absorb too much moisture and go soggy (ew).  Also, it should not be assembled very far ahead of serving for the same reason– it will go soggy from the cream and fruit.  The goal is to retain a bit of crispness to the outer edge and enjoy the chewy, marshmallowly interior.  When forming the circle  meringue on the parchment, indent the middle of the circle to make a slight edge (not too deep, or it will end up being whipped cream with a crusty edge) to help hold the cream and fruit in place.  The meringue is done when it is firm to touch, and it should be starting to turn a very slight golden color.  The addition of cream of tartar and vinegar to the egg whites, help stabilize and give volume to the egg whites.  Lots of recipes only call for a pinch or so of cream of tartar, but if you bump it up to 1/4 tsp per 4 egg whites, it will be easier to incorporate the sugar and other ingredients without losing the volume you worked so hard to beat into the egg whites in the first place.

Good to the last crumb!

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