Pumpkin Pastry Puffs

Pumpkin Filling:
6 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (squeeze between paper towels to remove excess moisture)
1 lg. egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Sour Cream Pastry Dough:
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
2 sticks butter, chilled and cut into 1/4″ slices
1/2 c. sour cream
2 tsp. powdered sugar

Top With:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. cinnamon

Pastry Instructions:
Put the flour and salt in a 3-quart bowl, and stir to blend. Scatter the butter slices over the flour, and cut in with a pastry blender until the mixture consists of particles that vary in size from small peas to bread crumbs. Stir in the sour cream with a fork. The pastry will appear dry because the sour cream is thick and does not disperse easily. With your hands, manipulate dough into a ball. Divide dough as recipe directs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 4 hours and up to 3 days. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Divide the pastry into 3 (5-inch) squares about 5/8 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 4 hours.

To make the filling, process all of the filling ingredients in a food processor bowl until mixture is smooth and blended.

Remove 1 pastry square from the refrigerator. Set a side for 10 minutes before rolling it. On a floured work surface, roll the pastry into a rectangle until less than 1/8-inch thick. With a ruler and a pastry wheel, trim the ragged edges and then cut the pastry into 3-inch squares. Lay the pastry squares across the top of an un-greased 12-cup miniature muffin pan, each cup measuring 1 1/2 inches across and 3/4 inch deep, centering each square over one cup. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of filling on each square, then bring opposite corners to the center and press lightly to seal. This process will also ease the pastry into each cup. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Roll and shape the remaining pastry squares in the same fashion.

Adjust rack to lower third of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Bake 2 or 3 pans at a time for about 20 to 25 minutes or until pastries are light brown. Remove pan from oven to a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove pastries from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Sift powdered sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle pastries before serving at room temperature. If not serving the same day, stack the pastries in airtight plastic containers and freeze for up to 2 weeks. To serve, reheat to freshen in a 325 degree preheated oven for about 7 to 12 minutes or until warm, cool slightly, and decorate with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust:
9 whole graham crackers (5 oz), broken into large pieces
3 Tbls. sugar
1/2 t. ginger
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves
6 Tbls. butter, melted

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat to 325 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan evenly with cooking spray. Process crackers and spices for crust in food processor (or crush crackers with a rolling pin and stir in spices. Drizzle melted butter over crackers/spices mixture and stir. Press into the bottom and partially up the sides of the greased springform pan. A flat bottomed measuring cup works well for doing this evenly. Bake in heated oven until fragrant, 12 – 15 minutes. Cool to room temp (about 20 minutes). Once cool, wrap the outside of the pan with two large pieces of heavy duty foil so that it is covered all the way up the sides.

Filling:
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. allspice
1/2 t. salt
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree
3 (8oz) packages cream cheese at room temperature
1 Tbls. vanilla extract
1 Tbls. lemon juice
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Top layer:
16oz sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla

Bring about 4 qts. water to simmer in a stockpot. While the crust is cooling, whisk the sugar, spices and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Spread the pumpkin on the towels and cover with a second triple layer of towels. Press firmly until the towels are saturated, this will remove unwanted excess moisture from the pumpkin. Peel back the top layer of towels and discard. Set aside pumpkin.

Beat the cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and sides of bowl. Add about a third of the sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl and add the remaining sugar in two additions, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape the bowl. Add 3 of the eggs and beat at medium-low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape the bowl. Add the remaining 2 eggs and beat until incorporated, about 45 seconds, scrape the bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and give a final stir by hand.

Pour the filling into the springform pan (that has been wrapped in foil) and smooth the surface. Set the springform pan in a roasting pan. Set the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water to come about half-way up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the center of the cake is slightly wobbly when the pan is shaken and the center reads 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours.

Top layer:

While cake is baking, combine 16oz sour cream, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Once the cake has reached the 150 degrees, spread the sour cream mixture over the top and smooth. This is a little bit tricky with the water bath but works if you pull out the oven rack just far enough to pour the topping on and smooth. Bake cake about 6-8 minutes longer; the topping will look just set, it doesn’t become firm.

Remove the cake from the oven, still in the roasting pan, and set on a wire rack to cool until the water is just warm, about 45 minutes. Remove the springform pan from the water bath, discard the foil, and set on a wire rack to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Vanilla Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
5 cups whipping cream

Scald milk until bubbles form around edge. Remove from heat. Add sugar and
salt. Stir until dissolved. Stir in half and half, vanilla and whipping
cream. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes before pouring into canister and
freezing. Makes about 2.5 qts.

White Chocolate Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies

2 cups flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

3 cups oats (not instant)

1 cup dried cranberries

6 oz. good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350, line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Whisk dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture; stir until completely blended. Fold the oats, cranberries and white chocolate into the dough. Using large cookie scoop, drop onto baking sheets about 2″ apart. Bake for 11 minutes or until golden but still a little moist. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a rack. If desired, dip bottom of cookies in melted white chocolate.