There are many foods we eat out of season, but pumpkin isn’t one of them. The cool, crisp days of autumn just scream pumpkin.

As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate all things made from this gourd. Pumpkin soup and pumpkin muffins are two favorites, and now I’ll have to add Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread from the blog Elisabeth & Butter and Pumpkin Cheesecake from the blog Natasha’s Kitchen.

My daughter, Mary, made the bread this week and said it was to die for. The cheesecake recipe reminds me of one my dear friend, Andrea, shared with us years ago.

Happy fall, y’all!

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD

2 cups granulated sugar

1 stick salted butter, room temp

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped chocolate, such as Ghiradelli dark chocolate bar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two large loaf pans with butter and flour or line the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, cream the sugar and softened butter at medium-high speed for 1 minute. Add the eggs, pumpkin and vanilla extract and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Turn the mixer to low speed and add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and alternate with 1/2 of the milk. Continue alternating, ending with the flour mixture until almost combined, being careful not to over-mix. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped chocolate.

Pour into prepared loaf pans, place a few extra chocolate chips on top of the batter and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean. For smaller loaves, bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove the loaves and let cool on a drying rack. Makes 2 large loaves, several small loaves, or 1 large loaf and a dozen muffins. For muffins, cook 15 to 20 minutes.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE

CRUST

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

FILLING

3 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, room temp

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin pie mix

4 large eggs

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whipped cream, for serving

For the crust, pulse graham crackers in a food processor until fine crumbs form.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar and cinnamon. Transfer into a 9-inch springform pan with 3-inch tall walls and use a large spoon to press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temp.

For the filling, in the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl once to make sure you don’t have chunks of cream cheese.

In a separate bowl, using a whisk, stir together pumpkin pie mix, eggs, sour cream, flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined. Add this mixture to the cheesecake filling and continue mixing on low speed just until well combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Transfer filling into pre-baked crust and bake on the middle rack at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Turn off heat, prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon and let cheesecake sit in the oven another 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temp before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating. Serve when fully chilled (at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, or overnight).

Before serving, carefully remove cheesecake from springform pan by running a blunt knife along the sides of the cheesecake to release from the springform mold. Top slices with whipped cream.

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