Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mini Pumpkin Pie Tartlets and more treats for Book Club...

Everyone's turn to host book club only comes around once a year or so, and for me it was an excuse to try out a few new recipes on my friends.  And although the recent snow had already melted and the weather turned warm again that weekend, I was still in the mood to make some fall treats.

First I made a creamy pumpkin soup with roasted apples and carrots, and seasoned with nutmeg and ginger.  The soup was warm and healthy, and even Katie's baby girl Macy ate a few spoonfuls.

To have with the soup, I put out the makings for turkey sandwiches, with cheese, shallots, cranberry sauce and sliced green apples.

Cool and creamy artichoke basil dip disappeared fast with crackers and veggies.

And for dessert, mini pumpkin pie tartlets and spicy gingerbread cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting were a sweet finish.

The book, as it turns out, wasn't that great...  but the company was wonderful.

Pumpkin Soup with Roasted Carrots, Apples, Ginger and Nutmeg

  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tart apples (such as Granny Smith) peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated (or 2 teaspoons ground ginger)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 1 can (14 ounces) pumpkin
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk
  • Garnish: dried apple chips, pumpkin seeds or pepitas and sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400.  Place the carrots, apples and shallots in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Roast for 30 minutes.

Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a stock pot over medium heat.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Scrape everything from the baking sheet into the stock pot.  Add the vegetable stock; bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender.  Stir in the pumpkin and milk.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth, or pour into a blender and puree in batches.  Simmer for a few more minutes until hot.

Serve with a drizzle of sour cream and dried apple chips.

Yields 6-8 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Artichoke Basil Cream Cheese Dip

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

In a bowl, combine everything except the artichoke hearts and basil; using an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy.  Stir in the artichokes and basil.  Adjust seasoning as needed.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yields about 3 cups.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Buttercream


  • 1 spice or chocolate cake mix
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 eggs

Maple Cream Cheese Buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 2 1/2  - 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-2 teaspoons maple extract
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk, if needed


  • Crushed gingersnaps or whole cookies, gingerbread boys, cinnamon Gummi bears

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line cupcake pans with 24 paper liners; place the cookies in the bottom of each.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cake mix, flour, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.  Add the molasses, milk, oil, vanilla and eggs.  Mix on low to combine, then on medium for 3 minutes.  Spoon batter into the cups, on top of the cookies, filling them 2/3 full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, beat the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup with the whisk attachment for 4-5 minutes, until very light and fluffy.  Add the cream cheese and beat for 1 minute until smooth.  In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder.  Add by spoonfuls to the mixer, while mixing on low.  Add the vanilla, and beat for another 2-3 minutes, adding milk if needed, to achieve the right consistency.

Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes.  Garnish with crushed cookies or other cookies/candy.

Yields 24 cupcakes.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Mini Pumpkin Pie Tartlets

  • 48 shortbread tartlet shells
  • 1/2 can pumpkin (7 ounces)
  • 1/2  can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2  teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place the tartlet shells on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, egg, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt until smooth.  Spoon about a teaspoon into each tartlet shell, filling them almost to the brim.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until the center is set.  Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely.

Whip the cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form and pipe onto each tartlet.  Sprinkle with a little more nutmeg.

Yields 48 tartlets.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen