Thursday, October 25, 2012
Pumpkin is the new bacon?
Eat and drink it hot or cold.
There’s a pumpkin invasion afoot. Pumpkin, both plain and with pie spices, is everywhere, not just in the homey pies and muffins that we expect every fall.
You’ll find it in coffee drinks and cocktails; bagels and cream cheese; candies and frozen treats; entrees and appetizers. It’s even in Pop-Tarts and vodka.
What’s next, pumpkin water?
“Pumpkin is the new bacon,” says Ron Ruggless, Dallas-based Southwest bureau chief for Nation’s Restaurant News. He says that restaurant demand for pumpkin has increased 38 percent in the past two years, according to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm.
“A lot of experts say it’s because pumpkin has the patina of being very healthful. There’s a growing movement to consider the health impact of foods,” Ruggless says.
Never mind that pumpkin gets a hefty dose of fat and sugar in popular foods and drinks — he says it’s mostly about perception.
“It’s not exactly farm-to-table, but when people see pumpkin decorations everywhere, pumpkin conjures up ‘fresh, seasonal.’”
On weekends, Cane Rosso features pumpkin gelato and pumpkin zeppole (an Italian donut) studded with chocolate chips and served with Nutella for dipping. A pumpkin dessert pizza special is also in the works.
National chains are pushing pumpkin in many guises, but not actually using pumpkin as an ingredient, in most cases. Pumpkin pie flavoring zings up such delicacies as pumpkin frozen yogurt at Dallas-based Red Mango, Pumpkin White Chocolate Latte at Dunkin’ Donuts and Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. The latte is so popular that Starbucks is debuting an ice cream by the same name on November 1.
You can get your pumpkin fix at breakfast, or save it for late-night partying. New pumpkin products include Kellogg’s Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts, Bruegger’s pumpkin bagel — a follow-up to the chain’s popular pumpkin cream cheese — and Pinnacle’s Pumpkin Pie Vodka. If the vodka sounds too scary, try the Autumn Fizz at Cedars Social, made with bourbon and pumpkin ale; or Urban Taco’s Spookirita — a margarita made with frozen pumpkin purée.
If you want to join the pumpkin parade, canned pumpkin is your best bet for desserts, baked goods, and soups, thanks to its smooth, creamy texture. It’s usually labeled 100 percent pure pumpkin and should not be confused with canned pumpkin pie filling, which is sweetened and spiced.
For side dishes, small to medium-size pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins are a worthy alternative to squash; they have denser, sweeter flesh than carving pumpkins, which are larger but have thinner walls. If removing the peel is cumbersome, skip the task by making Crusted Pumpkin Wedges. Instead of peeling and cubing, the recipe calls for slicing the pumpkin — skin on — into thin wedges, coating them with oil and a spiced parmesan-breadcrumb mixture, and roasting.
Read on for some great pumpkin recipes, as well as a fall crop of pumpkin products to try while pumpkin mania persists.
Here are some of the pumpkin products we found around town:
- Pumpkin Bark at World Market
- Trader Joe’s Country Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal at Trader Joe’s
- Pumpkin-Nut Ravioli at Civello’s Raviolismo, 1318 N. Peak St., Dallas; 214-827-2989
- Pumpkin Whoopie Pies at Tart Bakery, 5219 W. Lovers Lane; 469-335-8919; and at Society Bakery, 3426 Greenville Ave.; 214-827-1411
- Republic of Tea Pumpkin-Ginger Tea, at World Market
- Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts at Super Target
- Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream at supermarkets starting November 1
- Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice Liqueur at large chain liquor stores
- Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka at large chain liquor stores
- Lakewood Brewing Co. Pumpkin Spice Dunkel; the latest local brew, on tap at Goodfriend starting October 27.
- Pumpkin Pie Blizzard at Dairy Queen
- Kraft Pumpkin SpiceMallows
- Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake cookies
Tina Danze is a Dallas freelance writer.