I love this time of year in Seattle when the rain comes again. I love that the air hangs heavy with the smell of grass. That it’s still warm enough to justify open windows and walking barefoot. I love the market selection speckled with the last summer fruits and the first fall pumpkins.
It makes me think of a schoolgirl’s pleated skirt – full of tease and color. The thought of oranges and reds among our green trees makes my heart skip. Mother Nature’s had it figured out for quite some time – it’s the anticipation which makes the climax so good.
The last few years my summers have been so packed there’s been little time for friends. I’ve found this to be true with a lot of Seattleites. When the sun comes out, we squeeze and schedule ourselves into a sleep deprived whirl of here and there.
Right about the moment I think I’ll burst for the want of a simple conversation with a girlfriend and a pot of coffee, fall comes. With it’s cool touch, Seattleites come home. We schedule a little less – breathe deeper. There’s something about our air, the freshness of it which says, “Bake Chocolate Pumpkin Squares. Call someone to help you eat the pan.”
Can you hear it? Are you baking yet?
Chocolate Pumpkin Squares
Serves 8 (or 2 Girlfriends over a few hours)
¾ cup crushed Graham Crackers
¾ cup crushed chocolate wafers
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp mace
1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg (pre-ground works too)
¼ cup coarsely chopped almonds (peanuts are an optional substitute, but I prefer almonds for the crust)
¼ cup melted butter
1 TBS vanilla
Combine Graham Crackers, chocolate wafers, sugar, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and almonds. In another bowl, combine butter, and vanilla. Mix two combinations together.
Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an overhand on all sides. Press crust into one even layer roughly 1/8-inch thick, bringing it up the sides just slightly. (Reserve extra crust for topping ice cream.)
2 packages bar cream cheese (8 ounces each)
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 ounce semisweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place cream cheese in food processor; blend until smooth. Add sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, flour, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; process until combined. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pan.
Bake until cheesecake is set but jiggles slightly when gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven. With a micro plane grater or lemon zester, grate chocolate on top of cheesecake.
Cool in pan. Cover; chill until firm, at least 2 hours (and up to 2 days). Using the overhanging parchment paper, transfer cake to work surface. With a knife dipped in water, cut into 16 squares. Serve.
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