Tag Archives: pumpkin

The Great Pumpkin: Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfait

When he came up the story line of The Great Pumpkin I wonder if Charles Schultz knew that someday millions of people would develop a “Linus Alter-Ego”? I, along with a host of others, look forward to all things pumpkin during the harvest season.

The Great Pumpkin is a holiday figure in whom only Linus van Pelt believes. Every year, Linus sits in a pumpkin patch on Halloween night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to appear. Invariably, the Great Pumpkin fails to turn up, but a humiliated but undefeated Linus vows to wait for him again the following Halloween. I can relate.

I really look forward to this time of the year. I’m in the habit of buying a few baby pumpkins every time I go to my favorite Amish farm stand. I bake them and freeze the puree to use in baked goodies all year round. I use pumpkin puree in place of applesauce and bananas because it doesn’t impart a fruity flavor to brownies and chocolate cake. I do like pumpkin scones and, now, these Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits. This recipe was inspired by one that I saw on Facebook . The filling is made with pumpkin, cream cheese, whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and frozen whipped topping; and the crust had graham crackers, butter and sugar. Yikes! It looked so creamy, spicy and decadent. How could I not try to make this work for me?

It was actually easier than I expected. For the crust I used a mixture of graham crackers and pecans. The fat from the pecans allowed the crust to clump up so that it could stick together in the bottom of a glass. No extra sugar is necessary as the graham crackers are sweet right out of the box. The filling was made with pumpkin, raw cashews, extra firm tofu, brown sugar, lemon juice/lactic acid and pumpkin pie spice. The combination of cashews and lemon juice are what I use as a cream cheese replacement and the tofu gives it a lighter feel. Lactic acid is similar to lemon juice as it adds to the tangy flavor of non-dairy foods. (The one I use is made from sugar beets. You can omit this and simply add more lemon juice.) I used brown sugar on my first go-around. My second attempt was made with dates. Both came out equally delicious, so the choice is yours to use sugar or dates. I processed the filling in a high-powered blender to get a super smooth texture. I can’t say that I would trust a regular blender or a food processor to get these same silky results. The pecan-graham crumble adds a nice textural contrast to the dreamy, creamy pumpkin filling. You can really have fun by dressing up these parfaits by sprinkling candied pecans, granola, crystallized ginger or more graham cracker crumble. It’s all good.

So, the moral of the story is to be like Linus and never give up. Adopting a plant-based diet over five years ago was certainly a challenge for a foodie like me. I’ve had a few disappointing meals and several melt-downs since. I’ve learned to walk away from those recipes that just won’t work for me and move on to ones that do. It’s what keeps me going down this path to wellness. Feed your Linus alter-ego with these Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Parfaits

Filling:

½ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
8 oz. extra firm tofu, pressed
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup brown sugar (3/4 cup dates)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon lactic acid (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt

Crust:

1 sleeve of graham crackers
1 cup pecans

Place all filling ingredients in high-powered blender and process until smooth. Remove to covered container and refrigerate.

Place graham crackers and pecans in a mini-chopper or food processor. Process until the crackers and nuts are finely ground and begin to clump.

Assembly:

Place one or two tablespoons of crust into a small glass or ramekin. Press down with an espresso tamper or your fingers. Spoon or pipe the filling into the glass until the glass is full. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

 

 

18 Sep 2017

Baking Mindfulness: Chocolate Doughnuts Frosted Two Ways

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Frosted Doughnuts

I hear the word “mindfulness” being tossed around a lot lately, but what does it actually mean? According to Psychology Today, “mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” I find that baking is a good way to practice mindfulness. The focus required for measuring ingredients, following the sequence of a recipe and perfecting different techniques allows me to be in the moment. It’s somewhat meditative and very relaxing. My mindfulness time of the day is usually from six to eight o’clock in the morning — before any interruptions like phone calls, a frolicsome puppy or someone looking for breakfast can crash my party. It’s just me, a counter full of ingredients and equipment and an open mind. This morning I had a very gratifying mindfulness session that resulted in chocolate doughnuts that are gluten free, low fat and very tempting. The doughnuts are delicious right out of the oven, but I wanted to have an icing option. As I was whisking together maple syrup and cocoa powder for chocolate icing, the thought of peanut butter-topped doughnuts crossed my mind. Actually, I was thinking about Funny Bones, a peanut butter filled chocolate cake that was a childhood favorite of mine. Now where did that come from? Well, that’s how mindfulness works — it frees your mind and opens you up a whole world of possibilities. Bake up a batch of Chocolate Doughnuts and start your mindfulness practice today. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chocolate Doughnuts

Makes 8 doughnuts

  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-processed or regular
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat doughnut pan with coconut oil

Place milk, sugar, pumpkin, almond butter and vanilla in small mixing bowl. Using an immersion blender, process into a smooth puree. (You could alternately use a blender or food processor.)

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add liquid ingredients and mix well.

Using a pastry bag fitted with a large tip, fill doughnut pan ¾ the way full. You should have enough to make 10 doughnuts. Bake for about 10-15 minutes. Doughnuts should spring back when surface is touched with your finger.Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before removing from pan.

Prepare icing and drizzle or spread over top of doughnuts.

Chocolate  Icing

Mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder until smooth. You can add more syrup or cocoa powder to achieve desired consistency.

Peanut Butter Icing

Mix 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with 2 tablespoon of peanut butter until smooth.

 

30 Apr 2016

Hey, Who Sat on My Waffles?

 Pumpkin Pizzelle“Hey, who sat on my waffles?”  You might ask yourself this if you never had the pleasure of eating Pizzelle Cookies. Pizzelles are traditional Italian waffle cookies made with eggs, flour, sugar and butter. Thin, slightly sweet and crisp. Without all that butter, sugar and fat from eggs, I thought it would be impossible to make a plant-based version of these little delights that would be crisp and, as equally important, be able to release themselves from the intricate surface of the pizzelle maker. You see, a pizzelle maker is similar to a waffle iron, except that it presses the batter very thinly. Here’s what mine looks like:

Prego-Villaware-3600-NS-Pizzelle-Maker-Cookie-Iron-Baker-Machine

Without all that butter in the batter, I was a little skeptical that I could make a healthy version. I decided to use my recipe for pumpkin pancakes as a starting point. After all, pancakes are close to waffles and pizzelles are waffle-like, so what the heck? I eliminated the baking powder and baking soda, used brown instead of white sugar and added a little more coconut oil. I was happily surprised that the pizzelles released effortlessly. I was even happier when I bit into one and felt that crisp texture that makes a pizzelle so different than any other cookie. If you’re really quick, you can wrap the warm pizzelle around a cone-shaped object to make ice cream cones . . . or around a cylinder to make cannoli shells or . . .  pressed into a small ramekin to make a vessel for mousse, ice cream or any other spoon-able dessert. Straight off the press, pizzelles add a nice touch to a cup of coffee or tea, a shot of espresso, a steaming hot soy latte, or even a dish of vegan ice cream. Bene! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Pizzelle

makes about 30 pizzelle

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 tablespoons flax meal
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup almond milk, warmed to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract (optional)

Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large mixing bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together vigorously the almond milk and apple cider vinegar until the mixture is a little frothy. Mix in the coconut oil, the pumpkin.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix them until the batter is totally smooth.

Heat a pizzelle maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Place 1 tablespoon of batter on pizzelle maker, close cover and grill until golden (about 1-1/2 minutes).

 

 

 

16 Sep 2015

Pumpkins are for Porches and More: Pumpkin Doughnuts

Pumpkin Doughnuts

I love this time of year when summer starts to fade into fall. The leaves are already falling in our yard and our squash and melon vines are starting to brown up. Pretty soon, you’ll see mountains of pumpkins in every size, color and shape in local farm stands. I always buy a great pumpkin for my porch. But pumpkins aren’t just for porches. I like to buy as many small pumpkins (about 8″ in diameter) as I can to make homemade pumpkin puree. It’s so simple and the taste of freshly baked pumpkin is so worth it. Just cut the pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down on a shallow baking sheet. Bake in a 350F oven until soft. Let cool, scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor. You can use the puree now or freeze it in plastic containers or freezer bags. I use pumpkin in a lot of baked goods, much the same way you would use applesauce. It’s a good way to reduce the amount of fat in a recipe while giving a nice, moist texture to baked goods. I’ve used it in smoothies, pumpkin pie and custard, loaf cakes, cupcakes, brownies, doughnuts and pumpkin pancakes. The pumpkin also contains fiber and antioxidants, so there’s no need for a guilt trip this morning. These Pumpkin Doughnuts get an extra pumpkin punch with the addition of pumpkin butter. If you don’t have it on hand, you can substitute applesauce or apple butter. I dipped the cooled doughnuts in Alton Brown’s doughnut glaze substituting cashew milk for whole milk. (If you want more of an icing to drizzle, simple reduce the quantity of milk.) Delicious with a glass of almond milk or a cup of coffee or tea. So pick up a pumpkin for your porch and a few more for your pantry. Then bake up a batch of Pumpkin Doughnuts and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Veg-icurious Pumpkin Doughnuts

Makes 11 to 12 large doughnuts

Special equipment: doughnut baking pan

  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk, warmed in microwave
  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin butter
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two mini doughnut pans or two regular sized doughnut pans with coconut oil.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, milk, pumpkin, pumpkin butter, brown sugar and melted coconut oil.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift the dry ingredients together. Pour the wet ingredients on top of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Using a pastry bag, fill the doughnut tins about ¾ the way full.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350F or until they gently spring back when touched. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully using a butter knife to remove. Place on cooling rack for another 10-15 minutes.

 

 

 

07 Sep 2015

Let Them Eat Cake For Breakfast: Banana Pumpkin Pancake Layer Cake

Banana Pumpkin PancakesSerendipity . . .  the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident. I had one of these moments last weekend and it made me feel like singing, “Serendiptiy-do-dah, Serendipity-eh”, but I got that mixed up with a Disney tune. Anyway, Mom had gotten up late and wanted pumpkin pancakes for breakfast. Luckily, I had some leftovers in the freezer and took out a bag. Seeing that there were some extras, Bruce asked to have a few. Since that left only two lonely pancakes in the bag, I decided to join the party. That’s when I spied half of a banana that had been hanging around the kitchen since breakfast. And there was Serendipity, in the form of a banana, staring me right in the face.  Well, I sliced up that banana, layered it between my two pancakes and drizzled on some maple syrup. It was like a Bananas Foster torte that’s healthy enough for breakfast. It’ll be fun to see how high I can go with this torte the next time I make a batch of pancakes. So, let them eat cake for breakfast!  For the Pumpkin Pancake recipe, see my previous post here. May you enjoy a serving of Serendipity today and thanks for being Vegi-curious!

 

13 Jul 2015

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