*Or, Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. Now Eat Some Delicious Spread.
[There’s just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays. This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I’m determined to make at least a few in my kitchen–and thought I’d share my ideas in case you’d like to partake, too. ]
I know that pretty much everyone in the blogosphere (well, and the rest of the galaxy, too, come to think of it) has already made this spread. But hey, I’ve always been a late bloomer. And now, I’ve finally tried it, too. And it is so *&$@!% good that I had to include it as this (penultimate) Gastronomic Gift this year. (I’ve got one more planned, as long as we can shovel ourselves out of the *&$@!% 25 cm. (just under a foot) of snow that battered the city yesterday and I can get to the store).
Pumpkin butter is the perfect means to use up cooked pumpkin (or squash, to those of us in North America). It’s a great nut butter substitute if you’re trying to reduce fat and calories. Or if, like me, you’ve once again allowed the insidious holiday-time profusion of chocolate and chocolate-coated/ chocolate studded/ chocolate-molded/ chocolate-frosted/ chocolate flavored/ chocolate filled/ chocolate-related-in-any-way desserts that seem to reproduce of their own accord on countertops and dining room tables and candy dishes and office desks and buffets and coffee tables and bar tops and glove compartments and pockets and dessert menus to override your (wobbly at the best of times) self control, and you find that you’ve now consumed more chocolate in the past two weeks than the entire GDP of a small country, more than Big Brother’s secret stash in 1984, more than the exports from Switzerland at Valentine’s Day, more than the full contents of Willie Wonka’s factory–more, really than you’d rightfully expect any normal human being to ingest under any circumstances whatsoever in a lifetime, except maybe under threat of torture.
What? You mean it’s just me?
For some strange reason, I felt the need for a break from chocolate for a while (ahem). Now that I’ve made my own pumpkin butter, I can join the chorus and say that I, too, am smitten. It’s the perfect accompaniment to pretty much any carbohydrate with a flat surface (or even a somewhat bumpy one–have you tried this on rice cakes? Divine.)
But I must admit that my favorite use for the butter isn’t on toast, or a muffin, or pancakes, or any other solid food. I think I love it most blended (using my hand blender) in a tall, cold glass of almond or soymilk. Yum-mers!
It also makes a fabulous hostess gift, of course, and a wonderful last-minute present; it’s the perfect way to use up that final can of pumpkin purée that’s been biding its time in your cupboard since Thanksgiving.
This recipe (the ubiquitous allrecipes version) makes a pretty big batch, so you can scoop some away for home use and still fill two or three pretty little gift jars with the stuff to give away. If you can bear to part with it.
adapted from AllRecipes.com
Try this lovely alternative butter anywhere you’d spread jam or nut butter. It’s got no fat, with the bonus of holiday spices all year round.
3-1/2 cups (about 820 g.) cooked, puréed pumpkin
3/4 cup (180 ml.) apple juice [but personally I think OJ would be great in this]
2 tsp. (10 ml.) ground ginger
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) ground cloves
2/3 cup (160 ml.) agave nectar (light or dark), or use coconut nectar or yacon for stage one
2 tsp. (10 ml.) ground cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 ml.) ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized pot. Heat over medium-high heat until mixture boils; reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring very frequently, until the mixture is thick and has darkened (the original recipe said 30 minutes, but mine took a bit more than an hour). This might also be a good time to pull out that old splatter screen if you have one, as the mixture tends to boil and pop a bit (my walls needed a good wipe-down after I was done).
Pour into clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml.). Will keep at least 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
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Other Gastronomic Gifts:
GG I: Fudge Two Ways
GG III: Marzipan-Topped Shortbread **Note: the original recipe was somehow transcribed incorrectly–please use the current version with the correct amount of flour!!
GG IV: Jam-Filled Turnovers
GG VII: Chocolate Macaroons in a Flash
Last Year at this Time: Holiday Cranberry Chippers
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