I had a moment in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago when I was enveloped by a familiar smell — pumpkin spice.
I started to wonder about the source of the scent. I then saw a display at the end of the aisle that featured all the seasonal pumpkin spice goodies — from candles to coffee to pumpkin spice Twinkies and even pumpkin spice popcorn.
Since I already had a carefully curated collection of sugar pumpkins at home on display for fall decorating, I knew it was time to put those pumpkins to use and see what I could cook up.
I was discussing the situation with one of my girlfriends who suggested I try making pumpkin butter. She remarked on how simple it was to make but I wasn’t buying it. I had to try it for myself.
Sure enough, a little pumpkin puree combined with spices, water, maple syrup and a touch of dark brown sugar gets the job done in about 20 minutes.
You can also be adventurous and swap the water for apple cider and get an excellent result. I used canned pumpkin to make my pumpkin butter since I had already sacrificed a couple of my decorative sugar pumpkins to use in other recipes, but you can substitute fresh pumpkin puree if you like.
Another great way to add some spice to your life is to whip up a batch of pumpkin scones (which are great smothered in pumpkin butter). I like to sprinkle the top of the scones with coarse sugar and cinnamon before baking. They look so delicious and inviting when they come out of the oven.
I used some of my sacrificial sugar pumpkins (they looked so pretty next to the mums on my porch!) to make a delicious pumpkin bisque.
I used coconut milk and chicken stock and seasoned it with turmeric and curry powder. I served it with a loaf of bread on a chilly autumn night and of course, everyone reached for the pumpkin butter to slather all over the bread.
Easy Pumpkin Butter
15-ounce can pumpkin puree (or about 1 3/4 cups fresh cooked puree)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup water (or apple cider)
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Add ingredients to a saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Whisk together to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and cool, then transfer to a lidded container.
Pumpkin Spice Scones
2 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated or cane sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons coarse sanding sugar
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, the nutmeg, ginger, clove and sugar.
Add the pieces of butter. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
In a separate bowl, add the pumpkin, vanilla and eggs and whisk together. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together.
Line a baking sheet with parchment. Drop the mixture by the heaping spoonful (about 1/4 cup of batter per scone) onto the parchment paper leaving a couple of inches of space between each scone.
Add the sanding sugar to a small bowl or plate and stir in the remaining cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the scones and set in an oven preheated to 375 degrees.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the scones begin to brown slightly. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
1 medium sugar pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
4 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
3 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons turmeric
Use a sharp knife to remove the top of the pumpkin. Use a spoon to scrape out any seeds and set aside. Slice the pumpkin into four wedges.
Add one tablespoon of the olive oil to a baking sheet and spread evenly. Use the remaining olive oil to lightly coat the pumpkin wedges and sprinkle lightly with 1/2 teaspoon of the Kosher salt.
Set in an oven preheated to 425 degrees and roast for about 25 minutes or until the pumpkin is softened and cooked throughout. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the skin from the cooked pumpkin flesh.
Add butter to a stock pot and set over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add onion and cook until onion is softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the pumpkin and 2 cups of the chicken stock and simmer for 5 minutes.
Transfer pumpkin and onion to a blender or food processor in batches and process until smooth. Return the pumpkin mixture to the stock pot and stir in the remaining chicken stock and the coconut milk.
Add the pepper, curry powder, remaining salt and turmeric and simmer on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes (adjust the seasonings to suit your taste). Remove from heat and serve.