It’s been a week of firsts here at Twice as Tasty. It saw the official launch of workshops on just about any technique, recipe, or topic that is or will be covered by the blog. If you’re intrigued by these recipes but timid about trying them solo, workshops are for you—and your friends; the workshops are designed to be hosted in private kitchens for small groups. The first phase will be in my local corner of Montana. But I love to travel, so contact me if you’re interested in hosting anywhere: Next stop will be Bellingham, WA, and the Puget Sound area at the end of December.
Twice as Tasty also catered its first event, a house concert at the EVK Lounge. From a food standpoint, this was an opportunity to add smell and taste to an already sensual evening, with the scent of baking pumpkin and chocolate wafting through the room midway through the show.
Roasted Pumpkin Puree and Seeds
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Slice the stem and blossom ends off the pumpkin, and then cut the pumpkin in half. Scoop out the stringy center, separating the seeds into a colander set over a bowl and composting the stringy sections, as well as the end cuts. Rinse the seeds under cold water and set aside to drain.
Place the pumpkin halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake at 375°F for about 1-1/2 hours, until the pumpkin is soft when you pierce through the skin into the flesh with a fork. Remove the pan from the oven and let the pumpkin halves sit until they are cool enough to handle.
Reduce the oven’s temperature to 350°F. Pour the rinsed and drained pumpkin seeds into a bowl and toss with the seasonings, using about 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt for every 1/2 cup of seeds. Spread the seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, at 350°F for about 30 minutes, until golden. Let cool slightly before eating, or store fully cooled seeds in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Scoop the cooled pumpkin flesh into a bowl or food processor, composting the skins. Puree the flesh with an immersion blender or food processor until smooth. Pour the puree into a large-holed colander set over a bowl to drain; cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
Once drained, use the fresh puree immediately (see below) or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. For longer storage, freeze in a 2-1/2-cup container. Makes about 2 cups.
Tips & Tricks
- This recipe can be scaled up or down depending on how many pumpkins you have and the number of seeds they produce. Many pie and cookie recipes call for 2 cups of pumpkin puree, so you may still want to freeze it in those portions. Be sure to use a slightly larger container if freezing; the puree will expand.
- Although you can roast the seeds from jack-o’-lanterns, don’t be tempted to bake the stringy flesh of these giants. But other winter squashes, such as acorn, buttercup, butternut, delicata, and Hubbard, can be easily substituted for sugar pumpkins in any recipe.
- You can bake the pumpkin and seeds on different days, but once the pumpkin flesh has cooked, it’s easy to just dial down the heat and toss the seeds into the oven. If I’m baking just a small batch of seeds separately, I generally fire up my toaster oven.
- Lightly salted pumpkin seeds are a delicious snack or topping for salads, pasta, or even granola. But other flavorings can make them even more irresistible. Toss the hot seeds with a sprinkling of cinnamon and ginger for a sweeter snack or a splash of lime juice and pinch of smoked paprika for a savory one.
- Don’t skip the draining step; homemade pumpkin puree contains far more water than the commercially canned version, and undrained puree will affect the consistency of pumpkin-based cookies, pies, ravioli, or other treats.
Twice as Tasty
If you’ve never been to a house concert, you have no idea what you’re missing: it’s art at its most intimate yet most comfortable, with hugely talented performers giving their all because they know their music will be heard and appreciated. I see these cozy shows as an opportunity to hit all of the senses by let the lovely scents of homemade food fill the room.
The menu for Twice as Tasty’s house concert debut featured Sourdough Bread, Zested and Herbed Lemon Cheese, Grilled Onion Dip, Cherry Tomato Tapenade, Lemongrass Cucumber Pickles, Refrigerator Zucchini Pickles, Definitely Dilly Beans, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, and Pumpkin–Chocolate Cookies. The sourdough scent was hot and fresh as guests arrived, but the cookies were the real draw. Audience members started drifting into the kitchen between songs as the first batch of cookies emerged from the oven, and performers Mike Eldred and Erica von Kleist happily took a short break as warm cookies were passed around the room.
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
reserved Roasted Pumpkin Puree (about 1-3/4 cups)
1-3/4 cups unbleached white flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 ounce bittersweet baking chocolate (optional)
1 ounce heavy cream (optional)
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar; add the egg and vanilla and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in the pumpkin puree, stirring until just smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Carefully stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips, cover the bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, until completely chilled.
Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and drop spoonfuls or balls of batter onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350°F for about 15–20 minutes, until the bottoms just start to darken. Remove to wire racks set over parchment paper.
If desired, melt baking chocolate in a small pot over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in up to 1 ounce of heavy cream, adding just enough cream that the chocolate runs slowly but consistently from a spoon. Use the spoon to drizzle the warm chocolate over the cookies; let cool slightly before serving. Makes about 50 cookies.
Tips & Tricks
- Using relatively little sugar lets the flavors of pumpkin and dark chocolate dominate these cookies. If you have a sweet tooth, increase the sugar slightly or use milk or white chocolate chips, and stir some powdered sugar into the drizzle.
- Commercially canned pumpkin puree can be substituted, but the flavor and texture will suffer. Homemade pumpkin puree that has been frozen may be slightly watery when defrosted, so let it drain again before using it in recipes.
- These cookies are almost like little pumpkin cakes. When the dough is chilled, they hold a rounded shape in the oven and stay quite soft when cooked through. The dough remains quite sticky, the cookies take more time to bake than traditional types, and you want them to darken only on the bottoms, not on the tops.