Friday, September 21, 2012

pump.kin day [puhm-kin-dey]

I've been thinking a lot about Autumn and Autumn baking (of course we are still experiencing 100+ degree weather, but my northern born inner clock tells me that Autumn is nigh). Of course that makes me think of delish dishes made from pumpkin- my fave. Which leads me to think about Pumpkin Day and my dearest friend Alyson. And then I realized I had never shared this tradition on this blog, so I'm re-posting the story from my private blog, for your reading pleasure.

(Originally posted 10/2008)

1. a day set aside for the making of all things from a usually large pulpy deep-yellow round fruit of the squash family: generally observed on the first Saturday in November, excepting that day be All Saints' Day in which observance is held on the second Saturday in November.
2. celebrated by roommates in aprons, who boil, puree, and bake pumpkin into edible delights.
3. commemorated by two women opening a can of pureed pumpkin, hastily throwing something together, before the baby wakes up.

I'd like to tell you a story about two college sophomores, for the sake of anonymity lets call the first one Alyson and the second Nancy. We will have to travel back in time... November 2003... Alyson and Nancy were roommates and had some time on their hands (or didn't have dates to the school dance). Alyson expressed an interest in baking something from an actual pumpkin. The girls foolishly assumed they would be able to find a pumpkin the weekend after Halloween. 4 stores later they acquired two small baking pumpkins. Add some internet recipe searching, whole nutmeg and a little determination and the seeds of Pumpkin Day were planted. That first Pumpkin Day was fraught with difficulties, but these two would not be deterred. They boiled, baked, steamed, microwaved, smashed, and pureed those pumpkins. They pounded the walnut sized nutmeg into powder... with a hammer (or was it a big rock?). Neither died from the horrible pumpkin soup. And the pie was good enough that their other roommates were willing to indulge.
For the next 3 years the tradition held despite boyfriends, marriages, and illness. In fact the only thing that seemed to deter pumpkin day was distance. But in the end that could only delay the inevitable for a year. From Arizona Nancy traveled to Missouri to Alyson's home to ensure that the tradition did not falter. Times had changed for these two friends and although they opened a can rather than a gourd and they had to take a break to feed a baby and only one dish was made instead of many, Pumpkin Day was once again celebrated!
Moral of the story, don't start such a tradition that is so much work with someone, unless you really like them, their husband, their child and their future children.
Here is what we made (and loved!) this year:

Pumpkin Brownies
Recipe adapted from The Recipe Girl

Pumpkin Batter:
1 tbs butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbs flour

Chocolate Batter:
5 1/2 oz semsweet-chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 sticks butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.
Prepare pumpkin batter: In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter with cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, then add pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Stir in flour.
Prepare chocolate batter: Combine semisweet chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Set bowl over saucepan with 1-inch of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl, combine eggs with sugar and vanilla. Beat at low speed until light and fluffy- about 4 minutes. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in melted chocolate. Sift flour over the batter and fold it in just until combined.
Spread chocolate batter evenly in prepared pan. Using the back of a butter knife, swirl the pumpkin batter slightly into the chocolate.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

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