Pumpkin pie with a pumpkin seed-graham cracker crust (photo courtesy Whole Food Matters).  Pumpkin mousse cheesecake with pumpkin seed-flour crust (photo courtesy Kenwood World).  Cheesecake with walnut-pumpkin seed crust and a caramel sauce ribbon (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).  Caramel Apple Cheesecake with gingersnap-pumpkinseed crust (photo courtesy iGourmet).
Go seasonal with pie and cheese cake crusts: Add some pumpkin seeds and add a touch of fall, flavor, crunch and nutrition.
You can add whole or chopped pumpkin seeds to your regular crusts, be they cookie (chocolate, gingersnap, graham cracker, shortbread), flour (wheat, nut, gluten free), or other recipe.
Use raw, hulled pumpkin seeds, available in natural food stores and health food stores.
First up is a graham cracker crust with pumpkin seeds, from Executive Chef Matt Greco of The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore, California.
Chef Greco initially made this delicious crust for a Black Out Pie, peanut butter and chocolate. So don’t limit your vista!
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.
2. COMBINE all ingredients except the butter in a bowl. Slowly add enough butter so that the mixture holds its shape when squeezed in your hand.
3. PRESS 3/4 of a cup of the mixture into a pie pan and bake at 350° for 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden.
This recipe is adapted from one by Florence Fabricant in The New York Times. Prep and cook time is 2 hours.
For The Crust
1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 5 to 8 minutes, until you hear them start to pop. Remove from the oven.
2. PULSE 1/2 cup of the pumpkin seeds in a food processor. Mix with the graham cracker crumbs, ground ginger and granulated sugar. Stir in the melted butter. Pat the mixture firmly into the bottom and sides of a 10-inch pie pan and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. BAKE the crust for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Reduce the oven heat to 350°F.
4. MIX the pumpkin purée, eggs, egg yolks, cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir in the crystallized ginger and mix until smooth. Pour into the pre-baked crust and bake about an hour, until the filling is set.
How about a garnish of candied pumpkin seeds?
You can sprinkle them on any dessert, or on whipped cream-topped drinks.
1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, or spray it with cooking spray.
2. WHISK the egg white until frothy. Place the pumpkin seeds in a small bowl and add just enough egg white to coat the seeds. Add the salt, sugar and cinnamon and toss well to coat.
3. SPREAD the seeds on the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, until they begin to dry and turn golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Garnish just before serving to keep the seeds crisp. If not using that day, store in an airtight jar.
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