Welcome to day 10 of Tag Sale Tastes’ Pumpkinpalooza!
Today I took pumpkin spice matters into my own hands and made a batch of Chex Pumpkin Pie Spice Crunch. This was a big hit here — in fact, I’ve already made a second (double) batch. Crunchy, sweet, and lightly spiced, it makes a welcome snack.
The Chex varieties used in this mix are Honey Nut, Cinnamon, and Wheat (it was hard to resist eating the Cinnamon Chex straight out of the box):
Mixing up a batch takes only a few minutes. There are microwave versions out there, but in my opinion, the mix really benefits from conventional baking. Use any kind of nuts you like — pictured below is a batch made with a honey-roasted nut mix from Costco that was really great. Pecans and peanuts also work well. (My family didn’t care for almonds, though — they were too hard.)
Place cereals and nuts in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, butter, and vanilla, stirring until thoroughly combined. Drizzle over cereal mixture, stirring to coat cereal and nuts.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool before serving.
Add a little spice to your holiday celebrations with gingersnaps. And if you really want to experience a holiday treat, order a tin of crisp, spicy gingersnaps from The Center, a private not-for-profit agency serving persons with developmental and intellectual disabilities (Houston readers can purchase these at the Eastside Farmers Market). The sale of the gingersnaps began as a volunteer effort led by Alicia Lee, whose son and nephew were residents at The Center’s Willow River Farms. According to the website, the request for gingersnaps came from Barbara Bush, and Ms. Lee set about testing recipes for months in her quest for a crisp, crunchy, spicy cookie. She found that one of the secrets was to have fresh and strong spices. A spice company in Wisconsin had just what she was looking for, and after many more test batches, they sent a sample to Barbara Bush, who loved them, and the rest is gingersnap history. Each gold tin is decorated with a hand-pressed and gilded ornament, made by one of the Center’s clients.
If you’d like to make your own gingersnaps or ginger cookies, there are a million recipes out there. My personal favorite recipe is this one, and I bake tons of them every year.
The Center also has a traditional fruitcake that we adore. It is loaded with red cherries, pecans, dates, walnuts, and coconut, and is more of a confection than a cake. They are not kidding when they say that this is “the best you have ever tasted! EVER!” (At the suggestion of one of The Center’s volunteers, we now freeze one of these fruitcakes every year to enjoy as a special treat in the summer months.)
Although the gingersnaps are wonderful all by themselves, they are even better served with Amazing Pumpkin Dip. We discovered this years ago at a small grocery store that had samples out of various products you could order for the holidays, including pies, cookies, and turkeys. They called it Amazing Pumpkin Dip and had copies of the recipe printed for anyone who wanted one. What was truly amazing was that we were not asked to leave, because my young son ate at least half of the bowl of dip while I was shopping. (He tended to view free samples as his own personal buffet.)
If you need to bring a dish to a holiday party, or are looking for something to serve at one of your own, gingersnaps and pumpkin dip are a crowd-pleaser. You can use any brand of pumpkin butter, but my favorite is McCutcheon’s:
Place cream cheese in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add pumpkin butter, sugar, and vanilla, and beat until well-blended. Gently fold in whipped topping. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve with gingersnaps for dipping.
The winner of the paperwhite bulbs giveaway, selected randomly using random.org, is Angela from Seasonal and Savory. Angela — send me your address and I will get these off to you ASAP, and hopefully, you will have beautiful, fragrant blooms by Christmas. Thanks to all who participated — watch for more giveaways this month.