Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Cider

I promised lots of pumpkin, and I'm here to deliver! This is kind of a recipe, but perhaps it's more of a starting point for you to hopefully draw some inspiration and adapt to meet your own cider preferences.

I like my cider spiced but not overpoweringly spiced, because I want to be able to taste the apple and pumpkin. So I always go easy on the spices when I first put everything into the slow cooker, then taste about an hour before serving and add more spices if needed.

I've made this pumpkin cider several times, after stealing the idea and basic ingredients from one of my college friends, Olivia. Every time I've made it, it's been warm, cozy, well-received by my guests, and perfect for a cool autumn evening. I like the twist on normal spiced cider, and it's easy to throw everything in the slow cooker early in the day, and let it do its thing.

Pumpkin Apple Cider
Inspired by Olivia
Yield: 10 servings if using 12-oz. cups

Ingredients (all measurements are approximate)
1 gallon apple cider (more or less depending on the size of your slow cooker)
1 to 1-1/2 cups orange juice
1/2 of a 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 orange
10ish whole cloves
Sprinkling of ground ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon

Press the cloves into the orange. Pour all ingredients into a slow cooker, and stir with a whisk to distribute the pumpkin and spices evenly throughout the cider. Let simmer for several hours (I turned my slow cooker on high for the first hour to warm everything, then turned it down for the rest of the afternoon).

About an hour before time to serve, stir and taste. Add more spices if needed, and remove the orange if it's getting too clovey or too orangey. Continue to simmer. Stir before serving.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

All you non-pumpkin-lovers out there, I'm gonna need you to bear with me for the next few posts. Because there's been a LOT of pumpkin going through my kitchen lately. Pumpkin apple cider, sugar and spice roasted pumpkin seeds, another round of pumpquinoa, and hopefully soon some pumpkin soup. But first, some pumpkin snickerdoodles.

When you love pumpkin as outspokenly as I do, friends tend to think of you when they see amazing-sounding pumpkin recipes. Which is awesome, because not only am I finding delicious pumpkin recipes from around the interwebs, but I'm also receiving the best of the recipes that my friends are finding! Such was the case with this pumpkin snickerdoodle recipe. One of my friends sent me this recipe in late August when it was still regularly in the high 90s, and it sat there in my Facebook inbox torturing me for about a month before it got cool enough for me to justify making them.

They were worth the wait! They were lightly sweet, nicely spiced, and a wonderful excuse to use pumpkin! They were a little more cakey than I'd like, but I learned from another friend that leaving the egg out of pumpkin cookie recipes makes for a less cakey cookie. Apparently the pumpkin plays the role that the egg normally would, so having both is unnecessary.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Adapted ever-so-slightly from Recipe Girl
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg (omit for less cakey cookies)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Rolling Sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter until fluffy. Add white sugar, brown sugar, and pumpkin, and beat well. Mix in egg (if using) and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Working with a little bit at a time, mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, just until incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, until dough becomes slightly firm. Mix together the rolling sugar ingredients; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape the cookie dough into balls, using about 1-1/2 Tbsp. of dough for each one. Roll each cookie dough ball in the sugar mixture, coating well. Place on cookie sheets and press slightly for taller cookies like mine, or press more for flatter cookies.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until they are slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to finish cooling.