Thursday, 18 October 2007

And I eat them too!

Pumpkins carved and ready I then faced a kitchen work-surface spattered with pumpkin flesh, a bowl of pumpkin-innards (to replenish the 'puke' if necessary!) and a sad-looking tin of pumpkin puree...

Flicking through my Martha Stewart Hallowe'en Holiday Special I came across a recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares. I love the pumpkin-spiced flavours that are such a culinary feature of this time of year, plus the recipe called for a cup of tinned pumpkin puree, so this seemed like an ideal thing to make. It was simple and delicious - a lovely moist spicy cake which can be cut into squares of whatever size you choose. Martha says it makes 2 dozen squares; I cut 18. Go figure.

Here's the recipe:

Spiced Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or use 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 3/4 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp each of allspice and ground cloves)

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups of sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract (I used just one as this seemed overly extravagant)

1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a mixture of semi-sweet, white and butterscotch chips, to use up 3 already-opened bags)

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Line bottom and sides of a 9x13" baking pan with parchment paper. Leave an overhang on 2 sides.

Mix together flour, spice, baking soda and salt.
Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla, then the pumpkin puree. The mixture may appear curdled. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter in pan. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs - about 35 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan. Peel off parchment and cut into squares.

You'll see that it provided an excellent reason to use the seasonal sugar decorations that my friend Christopher sent me!

I then picked through the pumpkin goo to extract a handful of pumpkin seeds. I mixed them with some melted butter, salt and some spices (I used smoked paprika and Old Bay Lemon and Herb seasoning) and roasted them in the oven for half an hour. I really enjoyed them as a nibble-with-beer before supper but Rob said it was like eating cardboard. You can't please everyone, so you may as well please yourself.

I regaled Rob with these facts from the extremepumpkins website, but he was still unconvinced.

Pumpkin Seed Eating Facts:

1. Some types of pumpkin seeds have less husk than others.

2. You can eat the whole seed, husk and all. Don’t worry.

3. 50 grams of seeds has 5 grams of dietary fiber. That will keep you regular.

4. Pumpkin seeds are also said to be good for Gout, Prostate Health and are supposedly an aphrodesiac.

5. Both German and Bulgarian folk medicines say that eating pumpkin seeds prevents impotence.

6. Roasted pumpkin seeds will keep for about a week in the fridge.

Domestic-goddess-like I also whipped up a quick pumpkin soup using some pumpkin flesh, some stock and the rest of the tin of pumpkin. It's in the saucepan in the picture behind, but as it's just orange gloop it doesn't really warrant its own photo. It tastes nice though, and feels virtuously healthy as it contains no fat. I'll put extra butter on the toast that I eat with it to make up for that.