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Pumpkin Filling Delights

Pumpkin filling delightsThese pumpkin filling recipes are a cinch to make if you have leftover pumpkin pie purée from baking pies – our favorite shortcut for making pumpkin desserts that are healthy with as little fuss as possible.

Tasty as these treats may be, let’s not forget that they are based on homemade pumpkin pie filling made with fresh pumpkin, and that pumpkin is a superfood as well as a good source of fiber.

Pumpkin Pie French Toast

French toast with pumpkinWhat do pumpking filling and French toast have in common? Milk, eggs and cinnamon of course… so why not do the obvious and combine the two for a super tasty creative dish – and get rid of lefovers in the process. Can’t think of a more inspired reincarnation for leftover pumpkin purée – plus it’s perfect with maple syrup!

Leftover pumpkin pie filling (half cup for 4 bread slices)
Sliced bread
Maple syrup

Tools needed: flat dish for filling, large skillet (preferably non-stick), spatula, fork

1. Use non-stick skillet or add oil if using regular skillet;
2. Preheat your skillet to medium heat (the warmer, the better);
3. Dip both sides of your bread slices into pie filling or use a knife to spread;
4. Transfer slices to skillet and cook until lightly browned on both sides;
5. Sprinkle with icing sugar;
6. Serve with maple syrup.

The following recipes are based on basic pumpkin puree before it is made into pumpkin filling, so remember to adjust ingredients if you are working with already prepared filling.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin cheesecakeThis easy pumpkin cheesecake is the perfect dessert for so many holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and even Christmas. Come the first days of fall, and everyone starts yearning for something pumpkin-ish. Given the popularity of rich, decadent cheesecake, we thought why not marry the two for the best fall dessert ever?

But cheesecake is hard to make, you say, and then I have to mess with a big, slippery pumpkin…? Not to worry, all you have to do is find the right shortcuts, and then you can give thanks for this lovely Thanksgiving cheesecake!

1½ cups graham crumbs
½ melted unsalted butter
24 oz cream cheese at room temperature (3 packages)
2 cups fresh pumpkin purée
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup flour
¼ cup sour cream
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon

Tools needed: mixer, mixing bowl, 9-inch spring form pan, spatula, aluminum foil

1. Preheat oven to 350F;
2. For the crust:
Mix 1½ cups graham crumbs with ½ cup melted butter and stir until well combined;
Add mixture to spring form pan and spread evenly along the bottom;
3. For the filling:
Use a mixer to soften cream cheese until soft and smooth;
Add pumpkin purée, eggs, sugar, vanilla, flour and sour cream;
Add spices (ground cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon);
Mix all ingredients until fully combined and smooth;
4. Pour cream cheese mixture into spring form pan and bake for 1 hour;
5. Remove from oven and cool for 20 minutes;
6. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate over night;
7. Serve with freshly whipped cream with a touch of vanilla.

Pumpkin MuffinsPumpkin muffins make a wonderful snack and are always a welcome addition to a fall breakfast menu. Our first healthy pumpkin muffin recipe uses whole wheat flour and less sugar, while our second version uses regular all purpose flour but combines healthy pecans into a sweet, buttery Caramel Pecan topping.

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh pumpkin purée
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Servings: 24 muffins
Tools needed: measuring cups and spoons, large and medium mixing bowls, whisk, large mixing spoon, ladle, 2 muffin pans

1. Preheat Oven to 350F;
2. Grease your muffin pans using oil or butter. If you prefer to use cooking spray, make sure that the spray is distributed evenly or your muffins may stick;
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt;
4. Combine wet ingredients in your medium mixing bowl: pumpkin purée, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla;
5. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until fully combined;
6. Using a small ladle, fill the muffin tins with batter. Bake for about 20 minutes. Muffins are done when they spring back when pressed lightly in the middle.

Pumpkin Muffins with Caramel Pecan Topping

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin purée
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350F;
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the flour. Beat until well blended. Slowly add flour while continuing to mix, taking care not to over mix; 
3. In a lightly greased or lined muffin pan, spoon in batter to 2/3 full;
4. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until golden. Allow muffins to cool fully.

Caramel Pecan Topping (optional)
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup all purpose flour

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut ingredients to mix until crumbly;
2. Sprinkle over batter before baking.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Pumpkin Crème BrûléeSure, pumpkin pie is the go-to dessert for Thanksgiving, but how about surprising your guests with an equally delicious though lighter dessert – something totally unexpected! I can’t think of anything more satisfying than cracking that scrumptious hard caramel crust and diving through the sinfully creamy custard. Simple as it may be, this Pumpkin Crème Brûlée recipe will still have tongues wagging at Christmas…

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar

Depending on the size of your ramekins, this Pumpkin Crème Brûlée recipe will serve 6 to 8 portions. Tools needed: medium saucepan, whisk, large and medium mixing bowls, baking sheet, 6-8 ramekins, small blow torch (or oven to broil topping)

1. Preheat oven to 350F;
2. Place cream in a medium saucepan; warm on medium heat until cream starts to steam;
3. Pumpkin Mixture: stir together pumpkin purée, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg until fully combined;
4. Egg and Sugar Mixture: in a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and white sugar;
5. Remove cream from heat and combine with egg mixture; when fully combined, add to pumpkin mixture and stir well;
6. Place ramekins on baking sheet; fill each evenly with mixture. Add water to baking sheet so ramekins are sitting in water.
7. Place in 350F oven and bake for about 30 minutes.
8. Allow ramekins to cool slightly, then cover and place in refrigerator to chill and set (2-3 hours);
9. Hard Caramel Crust
Sprinkle raw sugar lightly over the top of each ramekin to create a lovely brûlée topping.
To caramelize: if you have a blow torch, hold it so the flame just touches the sugar until it bubbles and darkens, or simply broil in your oven for a few minutes until sugar bubbles and darkens.
10. Chill for at least 20 minutes or until ready to serve.

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