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Pumpkin spice and everything nice

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    Pumpkin puree is folded into waffle batter for a deeply flavored twist on breakfast.

  • TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE

    Homemade pumpkin spice mix flavors both the batter and the streusel topping for this coffee cake.

I am not the audience for mocha lattes, candy cane cappuccinos or salted caramel dirty chais. But offer me a pumpkin spice latte and the gig is up. I’m such a sucker for anything pumpkin that I happily forgo my usual black coffee for this seasonal treat.

I like this musky-smelling, subtle-tasting, orange winter squash boiled, baked and simmered into savory soups, chilies and stews. I especially like it cooked into a thick, rusty-orange puree.

Homemade or canned, it’s perfect for mixing with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves for spooning into a flaky pie shell. Make no mistake: This is the combination that screams pumpkin goodness.

It turns out the secret to “pumpkin” lies more in the seasoning than the actual vegetable. Good news, really — because the seasoning can be incorporated into all manner of dishes — especially my fall baking.

I blend my own pumpkin pie spice using proportions from Betty Crocker, and I take the time to grind my own allspice, nutmeg and cloves for freshness. I also like to vary the cinnamon. Check out the variety of cinnamons at such spice specialists as The Spice House (thespicehouse.com).

Armed with a jar of my spice, I sprinkle it into everything from home-brewed coffee and black tea to my evening bowl of frozen vanilla yogurt. Mostly, I use the seasoning with cooked pumpkin — its rightful pairing — in cakes, pies, ice cream and puddings.

I’ve added the pumpkin spice seasoning to my standard streusel topping destined for simple one-pan cakes. The resulting cinnamon pecan streusel is so good that I find myself dolloping it over French toast and spreading it on a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with a smear of cream cheese.

Streusel completed, I added pumpkin puree (canned, unsweetened) to the cake batter for a fall dessert that is simply delicious and within reach of most cooks’ abilities.

The only caveat is to measure your cake pan to prevent problems in the oven. For this recipe you’ll need to use a pan that is 9 inches across the top and 1-1/2 inches deep.

Since pumpkin and breakfast seem to be a lasting romance, I added some canned pumpkin and the spice mixture to my favorite waffle recipe — one that is tangy from buttermilk and lightened with beaten egg whites. Tiny dried currants add sweetness and texture.

One note: Instead of using canned pumpkin, you can make both these recipes with cooked mashed fresh sweet potatoes or canned sweet potatoes (drain the syrup first).

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Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Coffee Cake

  • >> Streusel:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • >> Cake:
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup solid-pack canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • >> Glaze:
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso granules (optional)
  • About 1 tablespoon milk or half-and-half

To make streusel: Combine flour, brown sugar, pie spice and salt in medium bowl. Add butter. Use fingers to blend butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add pecans. Squeeze and gently form into small, shaggy clumps. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a straight-sided 9-inch round cake pan (at least 1-1/2 inches deep) or square cake pan with cooking spray.

To make cake: Mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat butter in large bowl until light and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in brown sugar, then egg, until smooth. Add pumpkin and vanilla; mix well.

Add flour mixture; use gentle strokes with rubber spatula just to incorporate flour into batter. (Do not overmix or cake will be tough.)

Scrape batter into greased pan; smooth top. Crumble streusel over top of cake.

Bake in center of oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly on wire rack.

To make glaze: Mix powdered sugar and coffee granules in small bowl. Drizzle in milk until smooth, thick glaze forms. Use fork to swirl the glaze over cake. Let cool until glaze is set. Serves 10.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 388 calories, 21 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 49 g carbohydrates, 27 g sugar, 4 g protein, 301 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

———

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

Adapted from Betty Crocker

  • 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

Combine spices in small bowl. Mix well.

Spoon into small jars and store in a dark place for a month or so.

———

Pumpkin Spice and Currant Waffles

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup solid-pack canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup dried currants or chopped raisins
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup safflower oil or high-heat expeller-pressed canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions. Spray with nonstick cooking spray (repeat as needed between waffles). Heat oven to 200 degrees.

Whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and dried fruit.

Mix buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg yolks in small bowl. Stir into flour mixture just until mixed.

Beat egg whites in small bowl on high speed until foamy. Gradually beat in sugar until soft peaks form. Gently fold whites into batter just until mixed.

For each waffle, spoon a generous cup of batter into heated waffle iron, close and bake until waffle is crisped and perfectly golden.

Put waffle into oven directly on oven rack while you cook the remaining waffles.

Serve topped with butter, a sprinkle of pie spice and warmed syrup. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 411 calories, 22 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 47 g carbohydrates, 18 g sugar, 9 g protein, 760 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

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