This will probably not come as a surprise to any of you. October is National Pumpkin Month. In fact, there are also over 300 national food days and today is “National Frappé Day.” So in honor of these two holidays, I have decided to write a bit about both.
I love pumpkins. They are so versatile, good for you, easy to grow and, wow, they keep in your fridge a long time. I always buy the pumpkins labeled baking or pie pumpkins. I wash them, dry them well and let the kids go wild with markers, creating unique and sometimes scary jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. Once Halloween is over, I give the pumpkins a good wash in vinegar water, set aside to dry and place them in the back of my fridge to use throughout the holidays. I find I can keep them there for about 30-90 days, but by Christmas Day, I’m down to one lonely pie pumpkin in the fridge. I save it to make my New Year’s Eve pumpkin cheesecake recipe. This delicious dessert came to me courtesy of my dear friend and former Kingwood resident, Martha Pappas, also known as Senora Pappas as she is the former Spanish teacher for two of our granddaughters.
But that is not all I do with pumpkins. This month I combined National Pumpkin Month with National Frappé Day (Oct. 7) and made the most wonderful frappe I have ever had.
Frappes have been around a long time, since the 19th century. Frappé is a French term, described as a drink with ice. Café frappé is more like a slushie. A frappé coffee, yes, Greek frappé (Nescafé frappé), is iced coffee made from instant coffee, water, sugar and milk. This frappé was invented by Dimitris Vakondios, who was a Nescafe representative, in 1957 in Thessaloniki. The Greek Frappé is one of the most popular types of coffee drinks enjoyed all around the Greece mainland and islands.
Now that you know about baking pumpkins and frappés, “Please join our table” as we indulge in a big piece of pumpkin cheesecake and a tall cold Greek pumpkin frappé.
Karen’s Pumpkin Frappe, Greek Style
2 1/2 cups whole milk, Ripple vanilla milk or Ripple Barista (in H-E-B by the powdered Coffee mate)
1/4 cup monk fruit powder or any sweetener you prefer, stevia etc.
Whisk milk, pumpkin puree, monk fruit powder and pumpkin spice together. Pour mixture into ice cube trays and freeze until firm, 8 hours to overnight. Place pumpkin ice cubes and coffee in a blender; blend until smooth. So good! Top with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg, if desired. Makes about 6 cups.
*Pumpkin Puree Recipe
Cheesecloth and a strainer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the pumpkin in half. With a spoon or a scoop, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center. Place the pumpkin halves on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, face down. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until pumpkin is fork tender. They should be soft to the touch and light golden brown. Set on counter until cool enough to handle. Remove the skin from the pumpkin. Using a food processor or a blender, throw in a few chunks at a time. Pulse the pumpkin until smooth. If it looks too dry, add in a few tablespoons of water to give it a bit of moisture. If the puree is overly watery, you should strain it on cheesecloth or over a fine mesh strainer to get rid of some of the liquid. Dump the pureed pumpkin into a cheesecloth-lined bowl or over a fine mesh strainer. Strain and discard the excess liquids by letting it set 15-20 minutes until desired thickness is achieved. Use the puree immediately in your recipe and save any extra in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Martha Pappas’ Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (you can buy them in a box as crumbs) or crush your own
3/4 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) or homemade pumpkin puree, see recipe above
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Whipped cream for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the crust ingredients together until well blended. Press onto the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan (Do not put a baking sheet under the pan). Bake for five minutes, remove from oven and set aside. Leave oven on while making the filling. Combine the cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend until smooth. Add the pumpkin, eggs and spices. Beat until smooth and creamy. Pour on top of crust. Bake for 55-70 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and run a knife around the edges. Let it cool to room temperature then refrigerate. When chilled, remove the pan sides. Cut the cheesecake into wedges and serve with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.