Happy Holidays to you and yours. I hope your homes are filled with warmth, love and delicious treats this holiday season!

Eat, drink and be Merry!!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

One of the best things about fall and winter is the abundance of pumpkin inspired recipes and sweets. Pumpkin lattes, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, and today pumpkin cheesecake frozen yogurt. It’s the best of two already delicious worlds combining the decadent smoothness of cheesecake with the tart chewiness of frozen yogurt. This recipe was one of those tests that was either going to be a triumph or an icy, glob of frozen failure. I’m happy to say that it was a true winner and may very likely find it’s way to our Christmas dinner table this year! So good! It’d be unbelievable on top of pies too. The maple praline pine nuts are optional but really quite amazing and super easy. You could also use pecans instead like the toasted maple pecans from last week’s post.

Give this sweet baby a try!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier COPYRIGHT 2012

ICE CREAM

  • 8 oz neufchatel cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1-1/4 cup quickly strained full fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (unrefined sugar)
  • 1/4 cup high quality maple syrup
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch salt

~ In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch with 2 Tablespoons of the coconut milk to make a slurry.

~ In a large bowl, place cream cheese, yogurt, pumpkin puree and a pinch of salt.

~ In a heavy bottomed pot heat the rest of the coconut milk, sugar and spices stirring CONTINUOUSLY. Bring to boil, add slurry, whisk for one more minute.

~ Remove from heat and pour into the bowl with cream cheese, yogurt, pumpkin puree and salt. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth.

~ If still warm, cool in an ice bath. Spin in ice cream maker for 20 minutes or until done.

~ Spoon frozen mixture into air-tight container, sprinkling in 1/3 cup of praline pine nuts as you go if desired, and freeze.

~ Remove from freezer 15-20 minutes before serving to allow to soften.

MAPLE PRALINE PINE NUTS

  • ¬†1 cup pine nuts
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

~ Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

~ Melt butter and heat syrup, mix in salt and spices, add nuts and toss to coat.

~ Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes. Stir and bake for 4 more minutes. Stir once more and bake for 2 minutes.

~ Stir to break up any clumps as the nuts cool.

ENJOY!!!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier COPYRIGHT 2012

My-oh-my did I underestimate this simple, thrown together idea! I guess it just seemed too easy to be that good but I stand corrected. Make these. Period. Don’t even think about it just go in the kitchen and whip up a batch! Then try not to eat them all in one sitting. Go on, I double dog dare you!!! I even pretended to save some for later, putting half of the batch in a little ziplock bag. My charade was shattered pretty dang quick when I was busted gobbling down my “saved for later” stash by the handful. Oh well, could be worse for you, right? ūüėČ

This version of candied pecans is light and crunchy, unlike it’s thickly sugar-coated cousins. It has a great balance of sweet and savory and the maple syrup lends a richness to the flavor that sugar never could. All the while you can still really taste the nuttiness underneath it all, a perfect balance. A teeny tiny pinch of cayenne or some smoky pepper heat might be a nice addition to this recipe as well.

AND they’re pretty to boot! I got a little carried away because I enjoyed shooting them so much. Look at that gorgeous glisten;) haha!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (I think it would work with coconut oil too for vegans)
  • large pinch sea salt
  • small pinch pepper
  • 1/4 cup high quality pure maple syrup
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme

~ Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

~Melt butter, add salt, pepper and maple syrup.

~Remove from heat, add pecans and herbs and toss well to coat.

~Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until fragrant, stirring halfway through.

ENJOY!!!

Variation: PICANTE SPICE NUTS

  • 2 cups almonds or walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/4 cup good quality maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 heaping teaspoon ground vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • few pinches sea salt

~ Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

~Melt butter, add salt, spices and maple syrup.

~Remove from heat, add pecans and toss well to coat.

~Spread on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until fragrant, stirring halfway through.

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

So I’m way over here on the left coast and my mom and her delectable homemade fudge are all the way on the right coast. ‘Nuff said, I’m sure you see my problem. This week I’ve remedied the fudge part of that equation. Mom is still on the east coast, a total bummer, but a slightly tweaked version of her holiday fudge is in my fridge. Mmmmmm happy day! She makes her’s with a can of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz) and 3 cups of semi-sweet morsels. I altered the recipe just a bit to make it even darker and shockingly vegan but it is just as rich, chewy and smooth as mom’s very own!

I make homemade coconut milk which is thinner than the commercial canned version. This recipe will outline how to make sweetened condensed homemade coconut milk with notes on using the canned version as well. That said, feel free to use regular sweetened condensed milk if you’re short or time or don’t really care to make your own coconut version.

If you’re far from family like I am, you know how these little tastes of home can make the holiday season a bit warmer. I hope you all enjoy delicious homemade fares from the ones you love this season.

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

SWEETENED CONDENSED COCONUT MILK

  • 4 cups homemade coconut milk or 2 cans full fat coconut milk (~14oz each)
  • 1/2 c ¬†Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder (*ONLY if using homemade coconut milk)

~In sauce pan, combine coconut milk and honey.

~Simmer vigorously in a large heavy sauce pan until liquid is reduced by half and color is pale amber. Stir regularly. Liquid should have a light syrup consistency.

~If using homemade coconut milk, whisk in cornstarch/arrowroot powder and simmer vigorously for another minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate until use.

*Makes just under 2 c

FUDGE

  • 4oz unsweetened cocoa baking bar, broken up
  • 2-1/3 cup semisweet chocolate (1- 12oz bag plus 1/3 cup)
  • 14 ounces (just under 2 cups) homemade sweetened condensed coconut milk OR 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 cup chop nuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • unsweetened toasted coconut chips (or shreds)

~In a heavy sauce pan over low heat melt chocolate with chosen condensed milk then add salt. Whisk thoroughly.

~Remove from heat, add vanilla and nuts. Spread evenly into wax paper lined 8 or 9 inch square pan. Sprinkle top heavily with coconut chips.

~ Chill for two hours or until firm. Turn fudge onto cutting board, peel off paper and cut into squares. Store covered in refrigerator.

ENJOY!!! (thanks Mom;)

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 copyright

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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