A Passion for Pumpkin

Pumpkins are everywhere as is pumpkin spiced everything! I love the colors, shapes and textures of all pumpkins and gourds. Only sugar pumpkins are suitable for cooking though. I have always used canned pumpkin but I am sure that the real McCoy tastes fabulous. The Thanksgiving feast is labor intensive due to the amount of dishes that I prepare so I am always looking for a shortcut. If you choose to use fresh pumpkin then my culinary hat goes off to you.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, it is time to think about not just the star of the show (gobble, gobble) but sweets! Assemble a show stopping mini-dessert platter and let dessert have the final curtain call. No better time to put aside your healthy habits for a special meal and treat yourself to ‘just’ desserts.

Of course it is traditional to serve pumpkin pie at this meal. I make Libby’s recipe on the back of their canned pumpkin. A tried and true recipe… also see archives November 2012 for more dessert ideas. I have a friend, Steve Konopelski, who is a culinary master with desserts.  Perhaps because he is an award-winning pâtissier and so incredibly talented that his creations bring tears to your eyes (check out www.Turnbridgepoint.com for more information). Anyway, I like to order Steve’s pumpkin Bavarian pie for my Thanksgiving meal. I would never ask him for his secret but the pie is a much lighter version of the standard pumpkin pie. After a very heavy meal it is a welcome addition. Steve also recently shared a photograph of his gorgeous mini-pumpkin cheesecake with poached pears. Stole my idea! Kidding aside, I think mini-cheesecakes are brilliant. The pie is heavy enough and a big slice of cheesecake would push just about anyone over the edge. I will make a cheesecake and cut it with a round biscuit cutter to make the minis but somehow I doubt that was his technique! Love ya Steve!

I love cupcakes and since I have a young, special great-niece coming this year for the holiday, I plan on making mini-pumpkin cupcakes just for her. Hopefully Calleigh will enjoy them as much as the adults! Maybe I will decorate them with candy corn to entice her further (some may call that a deterrent). The recipe is oh so simple and takes no time at all to prepare.


Ali’s Mini-Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes                                


  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ t. baking powder
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. cinnamon
  • ¼ t. ground ginger
  • ¼ t. allspice
  • 8 T. butter, melted
  • ½ c. sugar
  • ½ c. light brown sugar
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla


  1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice in a bowl.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in another bowl; whisk until smooth.
  3. Stir in flour mixture until combined.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees in lined mini-muffin tins for 9 to 12 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Makes about 36 cupcakes.

You can use store-bought frosting but I make my own…

Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting                             


  • 4 T. room temperature butter
  • 6 oz. room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 T. pumpkin pie spice plus more for garnish


  1. Beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt until smooth.
  2. Gradually add sugar and spice; beating until thick.
  3. Pipe or spread frosting on cupcakes and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

A pumpkin trifle can take the final bow at your meal as it creates an amazingly gorgeous presentation. It requires minimal preparation as you make a cake and then assemble the dessert. This year I am adding mini-trifles as a choice to the dessert tray.

individual pumpkin trifle

individual pumpkin trifle with chopped chocolate

mini pumpkin trifle

mini pumpkin trifle with chopped pecans

For the cake layer, I would make either a spice or chocolate cake or you could even use gingerbread. Be sure to add one can of pumpkin puree to the cake mixture if desired. Martha Stewart Living magazine has a pumpkin-spice latte cake recipe in the October 2016 issue that I am going to use.  It sounds incredibly moist and perfect for a trifle.  Please refer to www.marthastewart.com for the recipe.

Ali’s Mini Pumpkin Trifle*:

Spiced Pumpkin Layer:


  • 8 oz. room-temperature cream cheese
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • 1 ½ c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz.) of pumpkin puree**
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 T. pumpkin pie spice
  • Whipped cream
  • Pumpkin pie spice and chopped chocolate or pecans for garnish, if desired


  1. Beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until blended.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree and spices; blend well.
  3. Refrigerate at least one hour to stiffen.
  4. Just before serving, prepare fresh whipped cream.


  1. Cut cake of choice into small rounds with a cookie cutter to fit in the bottom of the parfait glass (you can even cut the cake into chunks to simplify).
  2. Spoon as much of the pumpkin spice layer on top of the cake layer.
  3. Top the dessert with whipped cream then sprinkle pumpkin pie spice and add a bit of chocolate.

*These trifles are more savory than sweet which is perfect for me; choose a chocolate cake for a sweeter dessert.

**Pumpkin puree used to be easy to find; not so much any longer. It has a thinner consistency than canned pumpkin. You can make your own from scratch but really all you have to do is buy canned pumpkin and run it through the food processor or blender to puree it. Voilà!

I would be remiss if I did not include some form of pumpkin pie on my menu. Instead, I will prepare mini pumpkin pies this year and then the next day we can use any leftovers in a blended milkshake with the mini pie, ice cream and a little milk. Talk about caloric overload! So my dessert platter will likely consist of mini pumpkin cheesecakes or maybe even cake balls, mini pumpkin cupcakes, mini pumpkin trifles and mini pumpkin pies (I am not sure about the crust for this recipe yet so I am reluctant to share). Of course I will also serve Steve’s pumpkin pie. A bit over the top but who cares? Don’t you wish you were coming to my house?

Bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!




  1. Jackie Wolfle · · Reply

    Yes I do wish I could be at your house! I’m going to try the trifle to take to Annapolis.

    How are you today? xxoo, j

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Jackie Wolfle · · Reply

    Did I ever tell you I really enjoyed this one. Not that they all haven’t been great. Jackie >


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