Pumpkin Feast

Happy November everyone!  We can officially obsess over Christmas now that Halloween is over!  Last night I made a Halloween feast all revolving around pumpkins and I thought I would share it with you.  It includes my tried and tested ‘The Best Pumpkin Pie in the World EVAH!’.  Technically it’s a cheesecake but don’t hold it against me, it is a taste sensation I promise you.  But before the pie – which includes an easy peasy salted caramel sauce to go with it – we shall start with the starter and main course.

Batchos

Batchos

I would like to claim credit for inventing these but I think I saw it on the internet somewhere so alas, I can’t.  I used a bat cookie cutter and flour tortillas that I then baked in the oven to make my own natcho chips.  I then had the GENIUS idea to use charcoal cheddar instead of normal cheddar cheese, because not only is it scrummy, bit it gave the dish a suitably gothic feel.  To accompany the nachos I made a deeeeeesquishous guacamole.  There is nothing better than fresh guac, SO yummy and exceptionally good for you being made of fresh and nutritious ingredients.  So technically nachos are good for you right?!  Anyway I tried to carve my pumpkin in an attempt to make it look like it had thrown up the guac but I think I failed a little.  Oh well it’s the thought that counts.

Baked Creamy Pumpkins

Baked Pumpkins

Next up was some yummy and not so healthy baked pumpkins.  I say not so healthy as 99% was cream.  But totally worth the effort.  I hollowed out some tiny edible pumpkins and put inside garlic, leeks, bacon, salt, pepper and cream.  Baked in the oven until soft and gooey you can scrape the sides of the pumpkin into the creamy mixture and it makes a wholesome and filling meal.

The Best Pumpkin Pie EVAH with Salted Caramel Sauce

Now I will impart my tried. tested and repeated recipe.  I got the recipe on tinterweb last year and at the time changed it up a little.  It was an American recipe because it contained a SHED LOAD of sugar in it.  Like you could get type 2 diabetes just looking at it.  It was quite frankly a ridiculous amount of sugar so even before I had cooked it and tasted it I knew I was going to have to reduce it drastically to a more palatable amount.  I also taste tested the raw mixture still quite concerned about the amount of sugar in it and discovered I needed to at least triple the amount of spices put in.  So with the tweaks and the accompanying caramel sauce I tasted it and ER.MER.GURD.  It was heaven on a plate!  So here the recipe is with the method.  Follow my recipe and you won’t be disappointed, I promise.  And for your interest the original recipe is HERE.

Ingredients:
350g Gingernut Biscuits
90g Salted Butter
80oz Philidelphia Cream Cheese
180g light brown sugar
20g plain flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Tin of Pumpkin Puree (because WHO has time to make their own!)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or Gas 4.  Whiz up the gingernuts and the melted butter to make the crust.  Line a 9″ spring form cake tin and press the crumb mixture into the tin packing it down firmly.  Use a glass and build the crust around the sides of the pan to around 1″ below the top edge.  You are looking for about a pound coin thickness of crust around the edges.  Bake this in the oven for around 8 – 9 minutes.

For the filling mix together in a bowl the cream cheese and sugar until smooth with an electric beater.  Add in the spices and flour.  Then add in the pumpkin and vanilla and whisk all together until smooth.  Add in the eggs one at a time then the yolks one at a time mixing all the while to make a nice smooth mixture.  At this point I like to taste test to make sure I have the spicing right.  After adjusting to taste pour into the biscuity crust and tap on the work surface to get the air bubbles out.  Turn the oven down to Gas mark 3 (325 degrees F) and bake in the oven for an hour.  After an hour check the cheesecake and there should be a small circle in the middle of the cheesecake that still has a wibble to it.  Any more and you need to cook it for a while extra, completely solid and you’ve cooked it too much and the top will crack once cooked.  Turn the heat off on the oven and rest in the oven for 30mins.  Then cool out of the oven for a further 15/20 mins.  Once cool cover in cling film and cool in the fridge for 5 hours.  Then you can enjoy it with the caramel sauce drizzled over.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup of granulated sugar (around 200g)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. water
1/4 cup of diced salted butter (around 60g)
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 tsp course sea salt

This recipe needed no changing because it is just perfect the way it is.  And if you follow my instructions to the T then the caramel won’t go grainy or burn.  I took pictures to help y’all as that is how I learnt on someone’s blog and it really helped!

  1.  Heat the sugar and water in a non stick saucepan (you’ll thank me later when washing up) over a medium/high heat.  Bring to the boil and let it roll for a while.  You can roll the mixture around the pan every once in a while if you like.  WAIT.  I mean wait for the magic to happen.  It will happen eventually, so don’t be tempted to give up or think you are going wrong.  At first it will look like this:

Caramel 1

2.  When you have waited patiently by the pan for a while (don’t be tempted to leave it as it can quickly go from ready to burnt) it will become a deep amber colour.  This is what you are looking for:

Caramel 2

3.  Scrummy looking innit!  This is where you want to chuck in the cubed butter.  The mixture will most likely start bubbling up so don’t be scared.  Take it off the heat and whisk in the butter until it is all melted.  Use a silicone covered whisk to save that non stick lining!!!

4.  At this point you want to chuck in the cream whisking in to incorporate.  Again it might bubble and froth up, but don’t be scared, it’s meant to do that!  At this point congratulate yourself for having made a delicious thick oozy caramel that hasn’t burnt!

5.  Mix through your salt.  I like to use the coarse sea salt because I love discovering little nuggets of tangy salt in the sweet sweet caramel.  Now pour the sauce liberally over a slice of the pumpkin pie and go to desert heaven.

Pumpkin Pie

I say enjoy this with a nice cup of tea after a meal.  You really can’t get better than this pud.  I loved it so much last year that I made it twice over the Halloween/Bonfire night festivities and have made it again twice this year as it is SO good.  And the recipe has not failed me yet!  Each time I’ve made it, it has been perfect which as some of you keen cooks will know is a rarety for recipes to work over and over and over.  Somehow they always turn out differently no matter if you follow them closely or not each time.  But this is truly failsafe and would impress dinner guests and family alike.

Do let me know if you make this and enjoy it as much as I do :).
Until next time, happy gardening!

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