The nutty flavor and rich texture of pureed pumpkin makes it an ideal ingredient in several types of desserts. Some pumpkin desserts are simple, and call for few ingredients in addition to pumpkin. These include pumpkin pie, muffins, and mousse. More complex desserts are created when pumpkin is combined with other flavors, such as chocolate, caramel, cream, or citrus fruits. Some health-conscious bakers may use pumpkin to boost vitamins and reduce fat in desserts, since pumpkin is a flavorful yet nutritious fruit.
Pumpkin desserts are typically served during fall and winter months, and are often used to enhance seasonal celebrations. For instance, the most common dessert associated with Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie, which is made when pureed pumpkin is combined with milk and seasonings, and baked in a pie shell. Some bakers use variations of traditional recipes for this pie to put a creative spin on holiday fare, or to serve throughout the season. A different base, such as cheesecake or ice cream, may layered with the traditional pumpkin pie batter. Pureed pumpkin may also be combined with cream to form a custard which is served in pie crust.
The creamy texture of pumpkin is ideal for adding moisture and heartiness to breads and muffins. Pumpkin bread batter is created by combining pureed pumpkin with flour, sugar, eggs, and spices. Extra ingredients, such as shredded carrot, citrus zest, nuts, or chocolate chips, may be used to complement the pumpkin flavor. The batter is then baked in either a loaf pan or muffin tin, and the pastries may be glazed with icing or served with butter.
Pumpkin may also be used in cookie and cake batters and frostings to create seasonal confections. Many weight-loss experts recommend replacing some of the eggs and butter called for in cake mixes with pureed pumpkin, since it adds flavor and moisture with fewer calories than dairy or egg yolks. Pumpkin can also be used in cakes and cookies made from scratch, and seasonings — like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger — can add to the flavor and color of these desserts. Mixing pureed pumpkin with butter, confectioners sugar, and milk yields pumpkin-flavored frosting, but pumpkin cake may also be layered with vanilla or caramel icing for a more complex dessert. Some bakers enjoy creating a pumpkin roll, a dessert made by layering a thin sheet of pumpkin cake with vanilla or cream cheese icing, and rolling into a tube-shaped cake.
Pumpkin desserts are sometimes served in a bowl, since mousse, pudding, ice cream, and custard may be infused with pumpkin flavor. Pureed pumpkin is whipped with such ingredients as egg, milk, and cream until the desired consistency is reached. The dessert may be chilled or frozen as necessary. Some frozen pumpkin desserts include prepared, chopped pumpkin pie mixed with with vanilla ice cream. Caramel topping or whipped cream may also be used to enhance soft pumpkin desserts.