Perfectly Pumpkin

By Kristen Castillo

October 5, 2016 7 min read

Nothing says holiday dessert like pumpkin pie, but even this traditional recipe can get a little, well, boring. So jazz up this seasonal sweet with flavors raging from cream cheese to bourbon. These recipes are so tasty you may make more than one!

PUMPKIN PIE LAYERED CHEESECAKE

Take your standard pumpkin pie and combine it with cream cheese for a delicious twist!

--Graham cracker crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice

--Cheesecake filling:

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 F. For the crust, mix all ingredients in medium bowl. Press evenly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch springform pan.

For the filling, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low after each until blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Remove 1-cup batter to medium bowl; beat in pumpkin, flour and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Stir vanilla into remaining plain batter. Pour half of the vanilla batter into crust. Gently pour pumpkin batter over top. Top with remaining vanilla batter.

Bake 50 minutes or until center is almost set. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stand in oven 2 hours or until cooled. Remove from oven.

Refrigerate four hours or overnight. Run small knife around sides of pan to loosen crust; remove sides of pan. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator.

(Recipe from McCormick.)

BRANDIED PUMPKIN PIE

Adding bourbon to this recipe gives the dessert, "a depth of flavor typically not found in pumpkin pie," says chef/owner Dobra Bielinski of Delightful Pastries, explaining the pie isn't overly sweet.

You can also jazz it up with leaf-shaped sugar cookies on top of the finished pie. Decorate with cinnamon whipped cream.

1 pie shell, prebaked

1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons-2 tablespoons granulated sugar (to taste)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ginger, ground

1/8 teaspoon cloves, ground

2 teaspoon brandy/bourbon

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 yolk

1 cup half-and-half

Whisk the puree until it's smooth; whisk in sugar, spices and alcohol of choice. Next, whisk in the eggs, yolk and half-and-half. Taste for sweetness; if not sweet enough, add a little bit more sugar. Pour filling in a prebaked shell and bake for 45 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean in between the center and the edge.

Serve with whipped cream that has been sweetened with about 2 ounces powdered sugar per quart of whipped cream, and a dash of cinnamon to complement the flavor of the pumpkin pie.

(Recipe from Delightful Pastries.)

PUMPED-UP PUMPKIN PIE BITES

This recipe from author and celebrity chef, Devin Alexander combines whole-grain cereal with maple syrup, cinnamon, agave nectar and other ingredients for a bite-size holiday treat.

Butter-flavored cooking spray

3/4 cup whole grain, crunchy, high-fiber, low-sugar cereal

2 tablespoons 100 percent pure maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 large egg whites

1 can (15 ounces) solid pumpkin puree

3/4 cup agave nectar

2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup "Cut the crap" whipped topping (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly mist an 11-by-7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with spray. Add the cereal to food processor fitted with chopping blade. Process for 15 to 20 seconds or until the cereal is crushed. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and add the maple syrup and cinnamon. Mix them until well-combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Gently press down on the cereal mixture, spreading it evenly across the bottom of the dish. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until slightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, add the egg whites to a large mixing bowl. Using a sturdy whisk, lightly beat them until they bubble very slightly. Still using the whisk, stir in the pumpkin, agave and flour until well-combined. Stir in the vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt and continue mixing until well-combined. Pour the filling over the baked crust. Using a rubber spatula, spread it into an even layer.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Transfer the dish to a wire cooking rack, allowing it to cool to room temperature. Carefully cut 32 pumpkin bites. Just before serving, top each bite with 1 teaspoon whipped topping, if desired. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Makes 16 servings.

"Cut the crap" whipped topping

3/4 cup light agave nectar

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Add water to a medium saucepan until about 1/4 full. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Off the heat, combine the agave, egg whites and cream of tartar in a large metal or heavy-duty glass mixing bowl (that fits atop your saucepan). Beat on medium-high with an electric mixer fitted with beaters until well-blended. Place the bowl over the pot of boiling water. (Wear an oven mitt while holding the bowl over the heat, as it will get very hot). Beat for about 7 minutes, occasionally running the beaters around the sides of the bowl, until stiff peaks form. Remove the bowl from the water and continue beating for 5 to 7 minutes more, rotating the bowl and scraping down the sides with the beaters, or until the mixture is thick, fluffy and has very stiff peaks. Makes about 6 cups.

(Recipe reprinted from "The Biggest Loser: Dessert Cookbook," by Devin Alexander.)

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