2015-10-09 / Columns

Pull out those perfect pumpkin plates

Cooking on Purpose
By Connie Wendell
Special to the Post

For the past several weeks, as I take my daily walk with my dog Faith, I cannot help but notice on almost every door step or walk way, the multitudes of mums and pumpkins.

The myriad of colors is truly breathtaking. What gorgeous fall colors. My family looks forward to fall and all the pumpkin goodies we can come up with.

I have included a few of our favorites.

Pumpkin whoopie pies

These are fabulous. The recipe makes quite a few but they will go fast.

4 2/3 cups unbleached white flour; 1 tablespoon cream of tartar; 2 teaspoons baking soda; 1 teaspoon baking powder; ¼ teaspoon salt; 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cinnamon; 1 ½ teaspoons ginger; 1½ teaspoons allspice; 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened; 1 cup vegetable oil; 21/3 cups packed dark brown sugar; 1½ cups fresh or canned unsweetened pumpkin puree; 1 large egg; 2 large egg yolks; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; ¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest; and11/3 cup quick-cooking oats.

Filling

12 ounces cream cheese; ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract; ¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest; and 2¾ cups powdered sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease several baking sheets and set them aside.

Thoroughly stir together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice in a large bowl.

Place butter and oil in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well mixed. Increase speed to medium and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and beat until smooth.

Beat in pumpkin puree, egg, egg yolks, vanilla and lemon zest. Gradually beat in the flour mixture.

If the mixer motor labors, stir in the last of the flour mixture by hand. Using a large wooden spoon, stir in oats until thoroughly incorporated.

Using an ice cream scoop or rounded serving spoon, drop about 2½ tablespoons of dough at a time onto the baking sheet, spacing mounds at least 4 inches apart and making them as round as possible.

Using a blunt knife and swirling in a circular motion, spread each dough mound out into an evenly shaped 2-¾ inch diameter round.

Place in the upper third of the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just slightly darker at the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies stand on baking sheets for 3 minutes.

Using a spatula, carefully transfer cookies to wire racks, and let stand until cooled completely before assembling.

To prepare filling, beat together cream cheese, vanilla, lemon zest and half of powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.

Gradually add remaining powdered sugar and beat until well blended and smooth. If the mixture is too dry, add a tablespoon of milk.

Refrigerate the mixture, uncovered for at least 15 minutes, or cover and hold in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before assembling cookies.

To assemble the whoopie pies, spoon about 2 tablespoons filling in the center of the flat side of half the cookies; the filling will spread out toward the edges.

Let stand a few minutes to allow filling to set slightly; then center remaining cookies, flat side down, over the filling on each cookie, trying to match the rounds so that the tops and bottoms are the same size.

Gently press down until the filling spreads just to the cookie edges, and is about 1/ –inch thick. Let cookie stand on a flat surface for about 30 minutes, until filling sets somewhat; otherwise tops may slide off.

Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week, or pack the whoopie pies into individual plastic bags and refrigerate. Freeze for longer storage.

Makes 18 to 20 3¾- to 4-inch sandwich cookies.

Pumpkin nut bread

These are great to give for gifts during the holidays and they are scrumptious.

2 cups sifted flour; 2 teaspoon baking powder; ½ teaspoon soda; 1 teaspoon salt; 1 teaspoon cinnamon; ½ teaspoon nutmeg; 1 cup mashed pumpkin; 1 cup sugar; ½ cup milk; 2 eggs; ¼ cup margarine, softened or canola oil; and 1 cup chopped walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combine pumpkin, sugar, milk, eggs in a bowl. Add dry ingredients and margarine or canola oil, mixing only until flour is moistened. Stir in nuts.

Divide evenly in two well-greased loaf pans(7½inchesX3¾inchesX2¼ inches (or three mini-loaf pans).

Bake 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove from pan.

Pumpkin pancakes

I cook these on Christmas morning and they are a big hit.

1 cup all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon baking powder; ½ teaspoon salt; 1 tablespoon light brown sugar; 1 egg; ¾ cup milk; ½ cup pumpkin; 1 tablespoon canola oil; and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.

In large sifter place flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; sift into large bowl. In a separate bowl beat together egg, milk, pumpkin, and oil.

Add to dry ingredients, stirring with rubber spatula to combine. Do not over mix.

Drop by spoonful onto preheated nonstick griddle or skillet. Cook over medium high heat until bubbles appear on surface. Turn once, cook on other side. Serve immediately. Makes 10 5-inch pancakes.

Until next time, keep cooking.

Connie Wendell can be reached at conniewendell27@gmail.com.

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