Baking with Pumpkin: Whoopie Pies

One of Elizabeth’s family’s favorite things to eat during the holidays are pumpkin whoopie pies with cream cheese filling. While they might not seem like the most healthy of foods, they are certainly better than the whoopie pie options sitting on grocery store shelves – the kind chock full of unnatural preservatives. (That reminds me, did you hear that Hostess is no longer making Twinkies?)

I happened to be have the honor, or at least I thought, of judging the whoopie pie contest at the Vermont State Fair this year. More than twenty whoopie pie bites later, I regretted my involvement. However, out of the many entries, by far the best was a pumpkin whoopie pie with cream cheese filling. That’s why I’m in support of these. That, and pumpkin itself is low in fat, calories and sodium and high in vitamins, fiber, and Iron.

To make these pies you need three cups of pumpkin puree. Getting your own puree out of a pumpkin, as opposed to a can, is easy to do, I talk more about it on our Harvest Watch blog. It’s then just as easy to freeze the puree to save for other times of year, such as now.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

For the Cream-Cheese Filling

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Start by making the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil until well combined. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each cookie comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on pan.
Make the filling: Sift confectioner’ sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth. (Filling can be made up to a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate; let stand at room temperature to soften before using.)
Assemble the whoopie pies: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip the end. When cookies have cooled completely, pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge of the cookies. Transfer to prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

Recipe from marthastewart.com

Healthier Chocolate Beet Cake

In case you were wondering about chocolate beet cake, here is a delicious recipe (adapted from Straight from the Farm) that Everyday Kids used to reward our students for an excellent day of learning!

Ingredients: 3/4 cup butter, softened 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar 2 tsp baking soda 3 eggs at room temp 1/4 tsp salt 2-3 oz. dark chocolate 1 tsp vanilla extract 5 medium beets (2 cups pureed) 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp nutmeg

To make beet puree, trim stems and roots off beets and quarter them.  Place in a heavy saucepan filled with water and simmer for 50 minutes or until the beets are tender.  Drain off remaining liquid and rinse beets in cold water.  Slide skins off and place beets in blender or food processor.  Process until a smooth puree forms.  Let cool slightly.  Can be made up to several days ahead and refrigerated.

In a mixing bowl, add cream, butter and brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Melt chocolate using a double boiler or in the microwave and cool slightly. Blend chocolate, beets and vanilla into the creamed mixture.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch cake pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Eat as is, or sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar.  For a decadent twist, whip up a batch of orange cream cheese frosting.

Apple Cartwheels


Apple recipes are great for making sweet dishes also nutritious. Apple Cartwheels (by www.tasteofhome.com) combine an alluring mixture of apples, creamy peanut butter, honey, raisins, and chocolate chips.

Ingredients: ¼ cup of peanut butter 1 tsp of honey ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips 2 tbsp of raisins 4 medium-size unpeeled Red Delicious apples, cored

All you have to do is combine the peanut butter and honey in a mixing bowl, then the chocolate chips and raisins. Fill the centers of the apples with the mixture and refrigerate for about an hour. Finally, cut the apples into ¼ inch rings and enjoy!  This recipe is moderately low in calories (50 per apple ring) but will fill you up quickly!

NEED A FEW GOOD REASONS SHOULD YOU EAT MORE APPLES?

1. Eating apples (the biting and chewing) keeps cavities away.

2. Apples can reduce your risk of many cancers.

3. They are high in soluble fiber, which decreases the risk of diabetes.

4. Apples decrease cholesterol and keep your heart healthy.

5. Eating more apples will also keep disease away by increasing immune system function and are helpful inmaintaining a healthy liver!

 

Eat up :]

Peanut Butter Squash Brownies

It’s almost February, which means that eating healthy and seasonal foods becomes a bit more difficult.  Winter time isn’t the most fruitful of seasons – but don’t fret!  There are still locally-grown veggies and fruits in Vermont that you can find at your co-op or farmer’s market.  Apples, beets, cabbages, carrots, potatoes, onions, winter squashes, and turnips are all still available.

Winter squashes may be unmarked territory to some but they are surly a delicious treat.  Butternut squash is one of the most popular choices for its great taste, high nutritional value, and easy storage over winter time.  This squash contains many anti-oxidents and large amounts of vitamin A (over three times the recommended daily allowance!), folates, riboflaven, niacin, vitamin B-6, thiamin, and pantothenic acid.  Butternut squash is one of the top dietary choices for alpha and beta carotene. It does not contain any cholesterol or saturated fats and is very high in fiber and phyto-nutrients.  Additionally, it is rich in minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, copper, potassium, and phosphorous.  Squash in general are very low in calories and are great for maintaining a healthy weight.

Butternut Squash is also anti-inflammatory, may help regulate blood-sugar levels, and prevent cardiovascular disease!

Have I convinced you to begin eating more squash, yet?  Awesome!  Here is a great recipe that kids will love to eat and help make.

PEANUT BUTTER SQUASH BROWNIES

Ingredients:

1 Egg (or egg replacer) 1 cup Peanut Butter 1/2 cup Honey 1/2 cup Butternut Squash Puree** 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda *Be sure to save your squash seeds as they are also super healthy and filled with protein!  Try roasting them.

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8×8 square pan for later.

2. Beat the eggs, peanut butter, and honey together until smooth. Then add the squash and baking soda until well mixed.

3. Pour into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.  You can stick a toothpick into the center to check to see if the brownies are ready.  If the toothpick comes out clean, then they are ready to go!

** To make fresh puree, simply cut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the cut-side down in a roasting pan and pour in a little water. Bake at 350 degrees until tender.  Let the squash cool, then cut off the skin and puree in a food processor or mash yourself.

ECO-FRIENDLY ALERT!

Try buying your winter squash organic if possible! Recent agricultural studies displayed that winter squash is a successful crop for use in remediation of polluted soils.  PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are dangerous and unwanted contaminants found in soil.  However, winter squash plants have been used effectively to pull PAHs out of the soil!  Even if winter squash is not planted as an intermediary plant (between other food crops for purposes of increasing soil health), the benefits still remain in squash’s ability to turn polluted soil into safe soil.  Buying organic winter squash will help to reduce and reverse affects of contaminants in the ground.

Apple Tart

The gift of Apple Tart!  Everyday Chef loves to celebrate the holidays with a well-earned sweet treat.  Here’s a delightful recipes that’s adapted from David Tanis’s og gourmet.com excellent collection of dinner menus, A Platter of Figs.

Apple Tart

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) cold butter in thin slices
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg beaten, plus enough ice water to make 1/2 cup

Filling

  • 8 medium apples (about 3 lbs)
  • 1 cup sugar, maple syrup, honey or ice cider for the glaze
  • 1/4 cup sugar for sprinkling on apples
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water

Preparation

Put flour, butter, and salt in a bowl.  With your fingers, work the butter into the flour until it looks mealy, with some large flecks of butter remaining.  Pour the egg-ice mixture into the bowl and quickly knead the dough for a minute or two, until it comes together.  It will be soft, sticky, and though gathered together, a little rough looking.

Sprinke dough with a little flour and pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.  Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready, divide the pastry in half (there will be enough for two tarts–you can freeze one half for another time).  Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, approximately 11 x 16 inches.

Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and let it relax, then trim the edges to fit the pan with a little edging up the sides; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Peel the apples and cut into thin slices.  Prepare your glaze by dissolving sugar, maple syrup, honey or ice cider in 1/2 to full cup of water over medium heat.  Simmer to a thick syrup.  Arrange the apples over the pastry in several rows, overlapping them like cards in solitaire.  At this point you could refrigerate the tart for up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Sprinkle the sugar generously over the apples and bake until they are browned and the pastry is crisp, about 45 minutes.  Cool on a rack.  Just before serving, reheat glaze and paint apples with glaze.  Slice into small rectangles and serve.  (Alternately this recipe still works well if you bake the tart initially with the glaze on it instead of applying it afterwards.)

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