Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Last weekend I spent the weekend visiting my friend in Philly and eating lots of delicious food (and shopping…).  Philly has an amazing food and cocktail scene and I probably arrived home about 5 pounds heavier!  While everything was delicious, my favorite meal was at Vernick Food and Drink near Rittenhouse Square.  The meal started with the perfect amuse-bouche: a tiny cup of the most delicious sweet potato soup I have ever tasted.  I would have been satisfied just eating an entire bowl of it for my dinner!  But then I never would have tried the toast with fromage blanc, the striped jack and avocado crudo, the parmesan custard, the black-pepper glazed octopus, the tagliatelle with duck ragout and last but not least, the amazing chocolate pumpkin pie dessert!

Their chocolate pumpkin pie was a rich, creamy dark chocolate pie with strong pumpkin spice flavors.  Served warm as a small  individual pie (enough for 2 or 3…or 1 🙂 ) it was the perfect end to an outstanding meal.  As soon as I had my first bite of the pie, I knew I had to try to recreate it at home.

I had recently seen a recipe in the November issue of Bon Appetit for a Pumpkin Caramel Tart and decided to modify it to try to recreate the Vernick Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.  Instead of making the caramel as the recipe calls for, I made a dark chocolate ganache and substituted this for the caramel in the recipe.  I altered the spices and then poured the filling into a simple butter pie crust, laced with more spices.

The final product was pretty good but definitely paled in comparison to the Vernick version.  The chocolate overpowered the pumpkin quite a bit so I’m planning on increasing the amount of spices I use in my next test run (or maybe adding ground cloves or all-spice).  I was also unhappy with the crust and plan to substitute for a graham cracker or gingersnap crust next time.  Any volunteers to taste test?

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Crust (makes 2 9 inch pie crusts, adapted from Bon Appetit):
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons (about) ice water

Filling (adapted from Bon Appetit Pumpkin Caramel Tart):
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate, no greater than 70%- I like using Ghiraddelli dark chocolate chips)
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs

whipped cream for serving

For the crust: Mix flour, sugar, salt, and spices in processor. Add butter; pulse until coarse meal forms. Gradually blend in enough ice water to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Form dough into 2 balls; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; chill 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Roll crust out on a floured surface into a 12-14 inch circle.  Fit into a 9 inch pie pan and crimp the edges.  Line crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove parchment paper and pie weights and bake for 5 more minutes until set.  Allow to cool.

For the filling:  Scald the cream over medium heat in a small saucepan until bubbles just start to form.  Pour over the dark chocolate in a medium heat resistant bowl.  Allow to stand for about a minute and then whisk chocolate and cream together until smooth to make a ganache.

Mix pumpkin puree, brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, spices and salt together in a large mixing bowl.  Slowly mix in the chocolate ganache.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely in between each addition until smooth.

Pour filling into prepared pie shell.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until edges are set and center barely jiggles.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  Top with whipped cream if desired.

Store in refrigerator.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodle Cookies

Last Wednesday (November 4th) was National Stress Awareness Day (it was also National Candy Day…).  In a world filled with picture perfect Facebook, (insert social media of choice here), and Instagram posts, it’s easy to think that everyone else is living a fun, happy, stress-free life.  But the truth is, most of us deal with some amount of stress on a daily basis…some have just gotten better at hiding it.

National Stress Awareness Day comes at a perfect time.  Not only is it starting to get colder, but Daylight Savings kicks into effect robbing us of an extra hour of light everyday.  Cold and darkness can certainly exacerbate feelings of stress and depression.  Additionally, by November, I generally find that I have overcommitted to too many work projects and social engagements and need some time to myself.

Everyone has their own way to deal with this stress and for me, that comes in the form of cooking and baking (I recognize, though, that this may be stress inducing for others).  So last Wednesday, instead of going to spinning class, going out on a date, or working on a research project, I decided to just go home and cook, bake, and relax!

I had a craving for a pumpkin dessert and after logging onto Pinterest, these pumpkin cheesecake snickerdoodle cookies immediately caught my eye!  It is kinda hard to resist pumpkin and cheesecake all combined into one amazing cookie!

I will admit that these were a little more labor intensive than I initially anticipated.  The dough was a little sticky which made it a bit difficult to work with when assembling the cookies.  Perhaps I should have chilled the dough longer but patience is not my virtue…especially when pumpkin is involved!  The extra work was worth it though- the soft, pillowy, pumpkin spiced cookies did not last long at work the next day!  These cookies may not cure your stress, but they will certainly make it a little sweeter 🙂

Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodle Cookies

(Makes 24, from The Recipe Critic)

Cookies:
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly-ground ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cinnamon-sugar coating:
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of allspice

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Set aside.

In a stand-mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars on medium high speed until fluffy about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in pumpkin puree, beat in egg and then add vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients on low speed just until combined. Cover and chill dough for an hour.

To make the cream cheese filling, blend cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together. Chill for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and spices for the coating and set aside.

To make the cookies, take a tablespoon of the cookie batter. Flatten it like a pancake and place a teaspoon of the cream cheese in center. Form another tablespoon of the cookie batter into a flat pancake shape and place on top of the cream cheese. Pinch the edges together sealing in the cream cheese and roll into a ball. Roll in the cinnamon sugar coating and place on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.

Repeat until the dough is gone and flatten the cookie dough balls with a heavy bottomed glass or measuring cup.  Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes or until the tops start to crack. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy!