Season of the Pumpkin

Nothing could be better on a crisp autumn day than a pumpkin-walnut muffin and a hot cup of coffee or tea. Try this recipe from the Metropolitan Bakery in Center City.
And for a departure from traditional pumpkin pie this year, the Panera Bread company suggests this sweet, smooth after-dinner treat that might just become your favorite new fall tradition. After all, how can you ever go wrong with cheesecake?
Pumpkin-Walnut Muffins
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
21/4 tsps. baking powder
21/4 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 cups granulated sugar   
2 cups firmly packed dark-brown sugar
10 Tbsps. (11/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
6 large eggs
21/4 cups pumpkin purée
3/4 cup milk
2 tsps. vanilla extract
22/3 cups chopped walnuts, toasted
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Butter 24 21/2-inch muffin-pan cups.
In a bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
Stir in the granulated and brown sugars.
Add the butter with flour mixture and toss. With a paddle attachment at low speed, mix the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and stir into the flour mixture.
Stir in the pumpkin purée, milk and vanilla until just blended. With a rubber spatula, fold in the walnuts.
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin-pan cups.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the muffin pans between the upper and lower racks halfway through baking time, until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Cool the muffins in the pans 5 minutes.
Remove the muffins from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Makes 2 dozen muffins.
Pumpkin Cheesecake With a Whole-Wheat Crust
Crust Ingredients:
2 cups whole-wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
8 Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 tsp. salt
Filling Ingredients:
11/2 lbs. cream cheese, softened
11/2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
zest of 1 lemon
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 500°.
To Prepare the Crust: Combine the bread crumbs, sugars, butter and salt in a medium bowl until the bread crumbs are thoroughly coated.
Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.
To Prepare the Filling: Cream the cheese, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla extract, spices and lemon zest together.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then the cream, and blend until smooth (if the batter is still lumpy, you can press it through a sieve).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, place in the oven, and immediately reduce the heat to 325°.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the filling is set.
Cool thoroughly at room temperature before chilling.
Serves 12.
(This cake freezes well for up to three months.)


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