04 October 2013

pumpkin gingerbread bites; or how minor tweaks make all the difference

this time last year, just like everyone else, I was waxing poetic on the effusion of pumpkin flavored consumables before the weather even turned chilly. I had turned my grandmother's old fashioned gingerbread recipe into one with pumpkin, and the gingerbread into cupcakes. Just three days ago, I hit a jackpot in the recipe tweaking stakes.

As I approach thirty, I have become more aware both of a desire for sweets and my body's decision that sugar is a bad idea. I hate the idea of obsessing over calories. It seems preposterous and counter-intuitive. Still, I work on adding a bit more protein and a bit less sugar and fat and a bit less of processed, prepackaged foods to my life. As such, I eat a lot of Greek yogurt and add it to quite a lot of stuff {in maybe a marinade for movie-night chicken, or possibly an updated, moist chocolate cake, or a layer cake covered in almonds, pantry cleaning blueberry muffins, or as a replacement for sour cream on top of spicy chili or lentil soups}.

There's been a craving for something sweet and spicy and richly dark flavored happening at my house. I'm not insistant on pumking this time of year, but I picked up some apple cider and hit upon the perfect combination of flavors for the best hot cider I ever managed to make this fall.

That's the sort of to do lists I like: 1. figure out hot apple cider, 2. learn to make croissants, 3. take Pepper for hikes in the woods, 4. conquer contouring powder, 5. finally finish Shelby Foote's The Civil War trilogy, 6. moon over Tom Hiddleston in The Hollow Crown...but I digress.

Though I will sort out the proportions for a recipe here, the apple cider has led me down a rabbit hole of "what else can I add apple cider to?" Then inspiration slammed down on me like an anvil in a cartoon. Pumpkin gingerbread is lacking only one classic autumnal ingredient: apple cider.

Though I barely adapted my earlier pumpkin gingerbread recipe, this one is a bit lese dense, but with a wonderful almost custardy center. I have made some tweaks in mixing as well. I think it becomes simpler this way. As per usual, I mixed by hand but feel free to use a mixer if you need.

Pumpkin Gingerbread Bites
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
pinch salt
1 egg
1 {15 oz} can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup molasses

1 and 1/2 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
dash ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 to 1/2 cup apple cider

mix sugar and salt and yogurt, then beat the egg well into the mixture. Next, stir or whisk in the pumpkin, then the molasses. Top with the dry ingredients, then mix to combine. Add the appropriate amount of cider, in portions, to make the batter a traditional cake batter consistency.
For small bites, dollop {I like a cookie scoop, though a soup spoon or tablespoon measure will work just as well} the batter into a well greased tassie or mini muffin pan {will make about 48 mini bites or 24 regular cupcakes}
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once done, remove from oven and gently pick each bite out of the pan while still impossibly hot. For ease, feel free to use the appropriately sized paper liners, but I like the looks of the mini bites liner-free.
Allow to cool on a rack, then dust with powdered sugar or serve with a dollop of whipped cream, or eat with no garnish at all.

"Be well. Do good work. Keep in touch." - Garrison Keillor

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