Cooler temperatures and falling leaves bring in autumn — one of my favorite times of year.
Most people adore the season due to the weather, but for me, fall signifies an important part of the year because I can start baking the sweet, rich treats that carry the character of the season.
I know you can bake any time of the year — pies are usually the staple of summer, along with cobblers — but for me there is nothing more warm or inviting as the memories of my mother, various family members and me gathered in the small kitchen of our home, baking around fall.
The sugary-sweet taste of oatmeal cookie dough brings me straight back to my childhood, and the smell of pumpkin pie goes straight to thoughts of Thanksgiving – my favorite holiday.
I’m not much for fuss when it comes to cooking, especially baking because it takes long enough, anyway. But sometimes you want to try and tweak some things. Make a new creation for the base of an old recipe.
That was my inspiration for these recipes. I took my family’s oatmeal cookie recipe and added walnuts and pumpkin to make it feel even more like fall.
Instead of making an entire pecan pie, peach bars make for easier transport to those fall socials and potlucks.
Finally, to really impress your dinner guests, produce a pumpkin cheesecake that’s not only simple, but tastes like something a true professional would serve.
The most important part of these recipes, to me, is sharing them.
I know, sweets were truly made for hogging to yourself, but these treats are so good that you will want everyone to have a taste — and I’m sure they will be more than happy to oblige.
More than once, in fact.
PUMPKIN OATMEAL COOKIES
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream shortening and sugar together until mixed. Add egg and vanilla extract and mix until whipped and fluffy. Add pumpkin puree.
3. Add dry ingredients a little bit at a time until completely mixed.
4. Add oats and walnuts and mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
5. Bake from 10-12 minutes until cooked.
3 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10 X 15 jellyroll pan.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar and salt. Cut in one cup of butter until mixture resembles wet sand.
3. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the prepared pan and press in firmly.
4. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven
5. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large bowl mix together eggs, corn syrup, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 3 tablespoons of the melted butter and vanilla until smooth.
6. Stir in the chopped pecans. Spread filling evenly over the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.
7. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven until set.
8. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
—Adapted from Allrecipes.com
PUMPKIN PECAN CHEESECAKE
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
5 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Press mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
2. Beat cream cheese and next 2 ingredients at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended and smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin and lemon juice, beating until blended. Pour batter into prepared crust. (Pan will be very full.)
3. Bake at 325 for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven, with door closed, 15 minutes. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan. (Do not remove sides of pan.)
4. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours.
5. Remove sides and bottom of pan, and transfer cheesecake to a serving plate. Prepare Praline Topping: Immediately pour slowly over top of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/4 inch of edge. Garnish, if desired.
—From Southern Living Magazine