There are three things that top my baking list between October and January.
Can you guess what they involve?
Chocolate. Gingerbread. Pumpkin.
I seriously doubt if anyone is surprised. And yet, for some reason I have never tried combining them before! I've had chocolate gingerbread before, and it was almost too delicious. I've also had one of the most scrumptious holiday treats at the Godiva store, where I will go in just for a single one of their chocolate-covered pumpkin pie truffles. And even though I've never combined pumpkin and gingerbread myself, the two have so much in common, what with all the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg that goes into both.
Chocolate, gingerbread, & pumpkin. That just sounds like a party to me.
So of course I dove into making this recipe with those three tasty things in mind, not allowing the fact that I didn't really know what I was doing bother me a bit. I'm sort of a mad scientist in the kitchen, if you weren't already aware of this. You may have even heard me cackling at my own genius if you were anywhere nearby. You know, like us mad scientists do...
Anyway, my goals with such a pie were to combine the flavors delicately, while giving them each a place to stand out in this show. I had a chocolate crust + a filling of gingerbread swirls with straight-up pumpkin pie peeking out in between. I also wanted to give the pie that creamy density you find in a really nice cheesecake. That and the crumbly-textured crust you might find with a graham base. Oh, and above all, this pie needed to be delicious. I had to want to come back for more.
Needless to say, all this had to happen and still be a fundamentally healthy dessert. Something we could enjoy and still feel pretty good about at the end of the day. I mean, who knows what other naughty treats will come our way in the near future? Gotta fight delicious + evil with delicious + virtuous, as I always say!
Okay, I don't always say that, but I wanted to try it out. It sounded pretty good in my head.
On my first try, I think I erred a little on the virtuous side, trying not to add any sugar. (I was hoping the sweetness of the protein powder would do all the work.) Besides, it turns out that the batter always tastes sweeter than the final product! So it came out a little under-sweetened. Ultimately, this was fine with me, as it was easily made up for by topping with a little low-calorie whipped cream on top. Still, I had nooo problem at all going back and making another pie!
Enter attempt 2. Here, the crust is sweetened with dried fruit - always an excellent addition to a crust - and the pie filling is lightly sweetened with protein powder, plus a little stevia and sugar. I thought it was just perfect on this try.
Still, a word of caution: I do tend to like my desserts like I like my dark chocolate - a little heavier on the flavor and lighter on the sweet. If I was making this for big-time sweet lovers, I'd either make sure to add a tablespoon or two more sugar, or give them a good dollop of whipped cream on top!
Chocolate-Gingerbread Pumpkin Tart
1/3 c. (45 g) walnuts
1/4 c. (28 g) ground flaxseed
5-6 (60 g) dates or prunes
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 T. coffee or cocoa liqueur
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. (8 oz/ 240 g) pumpkin puree
1 c. (9 oz/ 260 g) nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2-3 scoops (60 g) vanilla (or pumpkin, chocolate, or cinnamon flavored) protein powder (I used Optimum Nutrition's Pumpkin Pie flavored)
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 T. stevia powder
3 T. sugar or agave nectar
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 T. cocoa powder
2 T. coffee or cocoa liqueur
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the crust by putting all the ingredients in a food processor and pulsing to make a crumbly mixture that holds together when pressed.
Spritz a springform pan with cooking spray and dump the crust mixture onto it. Use a sheet of wax paper to press the crust into an even layer.
Bake the crust for 8-9 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool.
In a food processor or blender combine pumpkin through sugar. Transfer about 2/3 cup of the mixture into a separate bowl. Add the cloves through cocoa liqueur to the remaining mix in the food processor and combine. Scoop all the mix from the food processor and into the springform pan. Then spoon the pie filling from the separate bowl in drops around the top of the pie. Use a knife to make swirls throughout the mix.
Bake about 30 minutes, until set. Cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator until serving.
Makes 8 slices
Nutrition per slice: 141 calories; 5 g fat (1 g saturated); 15 g carbs; 3 g fiber; 10 g protein (Bonus: 51% DV vitamin A; 12% DV calcium)