Tuesday, October 18, 2011

As seen on Fox, Way Beyond Pumpkin Pie Desserts!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Topping
Today, we went WAY beyond pumpkin pie AND cheesecake by stacking layer upon layer of rich and flavorful goodness! The crust is made of Oreo Cookies and chocolate chips, the center a light and fluffy pumpkin pie filling, and the top, a creamy and sweet vanilla cheesecake.  We topped it off with this season's hottest accompaniment, fresh, gooey caramel and a pinch of briny, natural sea salt.
This dessert is totally over the top! It is beautiful, textured, colorful, and each bite explodes with all three of this recipe's different flavors.  If you want to impress your guests after dinner during the holidays, THIS is your dessert.  Fire up the treadmill ladies, this one's taking the cake!

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Topping

Prep Time: 45 minutes  (plus 2 hours cooling time) / Cook Time: 90 minutes / Servings: 8-10

  • 1 bag of Oreo Cookies, centers removed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 packets instant coffee (enough to make 2 cups or .14 oz.)
  • 1 can (30 oz.) pumpkin pie mix (this is the sweetened, spiced mix, not just the pumpkin puree)
  • 2/3 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 2 eggs, plus 4egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 bricks (8 oz. each) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 jar (12 oz.) caramel topping
  • Sea Salt (for garnish)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  1. In a blender of food processor, crush the Oreos into a fine powder.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add Instant coffee and melted butter.  Stir until combined and the mixture has a chunky, crust-like texture.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips.  Transfer the mixture to a spring-form cheesecake dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Press the cookie mixture to the bottom of the pan evenly with your fingers,  creating the first layer, the crust.
  1. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin pie mix, evaporated milk and 2 eggs.  Mix well with electric mixer until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. Carefully pour the pumpkin pie mixture on top of the cookie crust.  Spread evenly with a spatula.  Tap the pan on the counter to even out the mixture and remove any bubbles.
  1. In a separate large mixing bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, 4 egg whites, vanilla and flour.  Mix well with electric mixer until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
  2. Slowly stream the cheesecake mixture on top of the pumpkin pie mixture.  Pour lightly and slowly, so that the cheesecake sits on top of the pumpkin pie mixture and doesn't combine.  Spread evenly with a spatula and tap the pan on the counter to remove any bubbles.
  3. Place the cheesecake in the oven at 350 degrees and allow it to cook for about 75-90 minutes, until the center is set.  You may want to cover the edges to prevent them from browning too much.
  4. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow it to cool.  Then place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow the rest of the cheesecake to set.
  5. To Serve:  Cut and plate the cheesecake.  Pour melted caramel syrup on top and sprinkle with sea salt.  Serve immediately.
Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake with Salted Caramel Topping

Pumpkin  Brittle
I always remember carving our Halloween pumpkin and my mother salting and roasting the pumpkin seeds.  I couldn't wait to get them out of the oven and crunch on those salty little outer shells and then get inside to those chewy little green seeds.  This year, I've just used the inner seeds and sprinkled them into a pumpkin pie spice-seasoned hard, sugar candy.  The seeds are sold in the grocery store where you'll find the other pre-packaged nuts. 

Watch the simple syrup boil carefully.  When its ready, there's about a 30 second window between perfect and BURNED.  It's really neat when you add the pumpkin seeds to the mixture because you'll hear them snap, crackle and pop!  It hardens quickly, so work fast. 

This also makes a GREAT garnish and additional, crunchy texture to any of your other seasonal pumpkin dishes and desserts. The outcome is simple, easy, and DELIGHTFUL!
Pumpkin Brittle
Prep Time: 35 minutes / Cook Time: 15 minutes / Servings: 6

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  1. Line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
  2. In a small saucepan combine sugar, water and pumpkin pie spice.  Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Then turn the heat up slightly and boil the simple syrup without stirring until it turns to a dark, amber color and gives off a deep, caramel smell.  DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE SYRUP SMELLS BURNED.
  3. Quickly stir in the pumpkin seeds and pour the mixture evenly onto the baking sheet.  Allow the mixture to cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  Break apart the brittle with a knife and serve.

Pumpkin Brittle
Pumpkin Cheesecake Waffles

Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time:  20 minutes / Servings: 4
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 10 oz. can unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp. melted butter
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. whip cream
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup caramel bits or caramel ice cream topping
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk until ingredients are combined.
  2. Add pumpkin, vanilla, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice and mix with electric mixer until combined.
  3. Continue to mix with electric mixer and add eggs one at a time, milk slowly, cream cheese and melted butter.  Mix until smooth.
  4. Ladle batter into heated waffle iron and follow manufacturer's instructions for cooking waffles.  When cooked, place on a cookie sheet in the oven at 250 to keep warm and crisp until ready to serve.
FILLING:  Combine cream cheese and whip cream and mix with electric mixer until smooth.

TOPPING:  Combine caramel, butter and pecans in a small microwaveable bowl and heat on medium heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring often until desired thickness and heat are reached.

TO SERVE:  Place one waffle square (or 1/4 circle) on a plate.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the cheesecake filling on top of waffle.  Place another waffle on top of filling.  Spoon caramel pecan sauce on top waffles to finish.  Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Waffles
Pumpkin Praline Gelatto

Prep time: 5 minutes / Cook time: 20 minutes / Total time: 25 minutes / Servings: 4

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 cup(s) of sugar
  • 3/4 cup(s) of canned, unsweetened pumpkin
  • 1 cup(s) of Praline Pecans, crushed 
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 4 Gingersnap cookies
  • 4 tbsp. of Caramel Ice Cream Topping
  1. In a blender or food processor, combine cream, milk, pumpkin pie spice, sugar, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix until sugar dissolves and all ingredients are combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer ingredients to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions for completion. Add pecans 10 minutes before gelato is finished.
  2. To serve, scoop gelato into martini glass, garnish with Ginger Snap cookie and drizzle 1 tbsp. caramel ice cream topping. Serve immediately.
Low-Fat Ginger Pumpkin Flan

After last year's epic fail at pumpkin flan, you and I agreed that I wouldn't try this again.  But, those of you who know me, know that I don't give up that easily.  The sound of pumpkin flan just sounds too good to me.  I can't just let it go.

2010's epic fail
at Pumpkin Flan

I did some more research this year, and I found a REALLY delicious and LOW-FAT recipe from The Daily Green that I couldn't wait to try! I altered it just a tiny bit, but FINALLY!  A recipe that WORKS!

The key to making a good flan takes patience...lots of it.  You can't make this work if your plans are to eat it right out of the oven, which is what I wanted to do last year.  You've got to take it out of the oven when it's still a little jiggly, like you would with a cheesecake, and allow it to set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  I also tried to eliminate the water bath step last year, thinking that it was tedious and unnecessary.  It's MANDATORY for even cooking.  
If you like flan, and you LOVE pumpkin the way I do (get ready for LOTS more pumpkin recipes this week), you will absolutely LOVE this recipe.

Prep Time: 30 minutes (Plus 2 hours 30 minutes cooling time)/Cook Time: 45 minutes/Servings: 6 
Low-Fat Ginger Pumpkin Flan
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree, unseasoned
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup evaporated skim milk 
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat a large pot of water on medium heat.  When the water comes to a boil, lower heat to low and keep the water warm.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar with 1/3 cup water. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar melts. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, without stirring, until caramel turns amber, 5 to 7 minutes. (Keep an eye on it so that it does not burn.) Working quickly (caramel will harden quickly) carefully pour about 2 tsp. caramel each into 3/4 cup ramekins and tilt to coat insides evenly. Set aside.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg whites and 1/3 cup sugar. Stir on low speed with electric mixer until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, ginger, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Stir again on low speed until smooth.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine milk and evaporated milk.  Heat on medium heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and keep milk warm.
  6. Slowly temper the warm milk mixture into the pumpkin mixture, whisking continuously. Pour custard mixture into prepared ramekins until they're about 3/4 full.
  7. Place a folded kitchen towel into the bottom of a roasting pan. Place ramekins on towel. Add enough of the heated water to the pan to come halfway up the outsides of the ramekins.
  8. Bake flans for40-45 minutes, until the flan is just set. Remove ramekins from water and let cool on wire rack, about 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. (The flans will keep, if covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
  9. To serve, run a knife around the edge of each flan, place a serving dish upside-down on top of the ramekin, flip over and allow the flan to fall onto the serving dish. 
Low-Fat Ginger Pumpkin Flan

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