Tomorrow is October! Here in North Carolina, that’s a bit of a shocker. Our temperatures have been up and down lately but always warm and pleasant, in the 70s or 80s. However, this weekend, right on schedule, it’s getting cooler, even dropping into the low 40s at night.
The latte menu at coffee shops and the beer line-up at craft breweries herald the seasons too. I’ve been seeing lots of tweets and Facebook references to pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin ales. I can personally vouch for Big Boss Brewing’s Harvest Time Pumpkin Ale, a local favorite.
Run to your nearest beer store and seek out New Belgium’s Kick, “a rich and tart pumpkin cranberry ale blended with wood-aged beer for a uniquely complex harvest season sour.” This collaboration brew (with Elysian Brewing Company) is a fine beer for evening sipping and, if you can put some aside, would make a great Thanksgiving digestif.
Last October during a New England road trip I had Southern Tier’s Pumking, an imperial (strong) pumpkin ale. I was happy to find it because Southern Tier didn’t distribute to North Carolina back then, but now they do, so a trip to Tasty Beverage Company (my local beer store) might be in my near future.
What pumpkin or fall seasonal beers have rocked your world lately?
In the spirit of all things pumpkin, here’s a simple recipe I’ve already made twice. I found it on Rebecca Crump’s Ezra Pound Cake blog. I’m grateful to Rebecca for sharing this recipe but I may curse her name because of her suggestion to “sandwich it between gingersnaps.” That sounds deliriously addictive!
Now you have a recipe to use when you find yourself with leftover canned pumpkin. Adjust the ingredients to match the amount of pumpkin you have.
Both times I’ve made this recipe I used the ingredient amounts specified below, but next time I’m going to reduce the brown sugar a bit. It’s not overly sweet but I bet I could make it less sweet and it would still be good. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Feel free to play with the spices too — maybe you’d like more spice flavor, or more ginger. Start with the amounts below, taste and adjust.
Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese
You’ll need a bowl and a hand mixer (or a stand mixer, immersion blender, whisk or spoon).
- 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened – I’ve been using the low-fat Neufchatel cheese – unwrap and nuke for 15 seconds if you’re short on time.
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, canned (or homemade)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/8 teaspoon allspice or cloves + dash of nutmeg (or you could use 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice instead of all these spices)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar, spices and vanilla until smooth. You could also use an immersion blender, sturdy whisk or spoon, but it will take longer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Makes 1-1/2 cups.
Original recipe: Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese, Ezra Pound Cake