Created by Alex Ward

Makes 3 cups hummus

Alex Ward of Johns Island found his pumpkin inspiration in baba ghanoush, which he recently tried for the first time. Once he sampled the eggplant dip, Ward, a lifelong hummus fan, realized tahini could play nicely with ingredients other than chickpeas.

Indeed, for his Pumpkin Hummus, Ward skipped the chickpeas altogether, using butterbeans in the blend. In addition to roasted pumpkin and tahini, he also mixed lemon, sage and maple syrup into the curry-colored starter. For a stunning presentation, Ward suggests serving the hummus in the pumpkin shell. “And if it doesn't work, you can put it in a bowl,” he advises. “Don't be afraid of the pumpkin: It can smell fear.”

The hummus is best when made the night before using and refrigerated. This gives the flavors time to marry.

Pumpkin Hummus

Photo by Wade Spees/Staff

Ingredients

3- to 4-pound pie pumpkin

Olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup cooked butter beans

1/4 cup tahini

1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon minced fresh sage

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for garnish

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a vegetable brush, scrub the pumpkin under running water. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the fiber and seeds. Rub olive oil onto the flesh of each half and season them liberally with salt and pepper. Place the halves cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet.

Cut the root end off of the garlic cloves but leave the skin on. Coat the cloves with olive oil and wrap them up together in foil. Place the foil package on the baking sheet with the pumpkin.

Roast the bottom of the pumpkin for 15 minutes and remove it from the oven. Cool to room temperature, cover lightly, and refrigerate. Roast the top of the pumpkin and the garlic until the pumpkin is fork-tender, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Cut the flesh away from the rind and puree in a food processor until smooth. Remove from the food processor and measure.

Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into the bowl of the food processor. Add 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, the butter beans, tahini, maple syrup, sage and lemon juice. Process until smooth. (Add water by the teaspoon if needed to ensure a smooth mixture.)

With the food processor running, slowly add the 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate overnight.

Serve the hummus in the bottom of the pumpkin. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Accompany with crackers or toasted pita bread slices.

Created by Alex Ward

Ward's hummus was a big hit with his fellow students, but he didn't stop there: He also developed a casserole-type pumpkin treatment with lots of celebratory cheese. In the course of perfecting his recipe, he ran into one of the pumpkin problems notorious for tripping up cooks. “Originally, I was going to poach the pumpkin in cream and chicken stock,” Ward says. “But I could never get it dry enough to set when it roasted.” Now, the cream and stock go into the baking dish separately, since it's never wise to add liquid to a fruit that's already saturated with water.

Pumpkin Gratin

Photo by Wade Spees/Staff

Ingredients

2 1/2- to 3-pound pie pumpkin

Olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper

4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips

1 large onion (about 8 ounces), quartered and thinly sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

4 cups diced roasted pumpkin

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium

1 bay leaf

4 fresh sage leaves

1 egg

1/2 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese

1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a vegetable brush, scrub the pumpkin under running water. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the fiber and seeds. Rub olive oil onto the flesh of each half and season them liberally with salt and pepper. Place the halves cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast them until almost fork-tender, approximately 30 minutes. Remove and let cool to room temperature. Cut the flesh away from the rind and dice it into approximately 1/2-inch pieces. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a glass or ceramic 8x8-inch baking dish with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Brown the bacon in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Transfer to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of rendered fat in the frying pan.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the onions to the hot bacon fat. Cook them, stirring frequently, until their moisture evaporates and they begin to brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onions achieve a uniform caramel color. (Reduce the heat even more and add a little water to the pan if it looks like the onions might scorch.) The process may take 30 to 45 minutes, so be patient. Season the onions with a pinch salt and pepper.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any little browned bits on the bottom. Add the thyme and, stirring frequently, continue to cook the onions until the liquid has evaporated. You want the onions to be completely dry. Add the onions to the bowl of bacon. Fold in the pumpkin and combine thoroughly. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly.

Put the cream, chicken stock, bay leaf, sage leaves, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over low heat. As soon as there are small bubbles around the sides of the saucepan, remove it from the heat. (The goal is to infuse the liquid with the herbs. If you desire a stronger flavor, let the mixture gently simmer for a few minutes before removing the saucepan from the heat.) Remove the bay leaf.

Place the egg in a small bowl and lightly whisk it. Slowly ladle a fourth of the warm cream mixture into the egg, whisking continuously. Whisk this back into the saucepan. Stir in the Gruyere cheese and immediately pour over the pumpkin mixture. Spread the Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly over the top.

Bake the gratin until the pumpkin is completely tender and the cream mixture is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and let set for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Note: This recipe can be easily doubled but use a larger baking dish.

Created by Daven Coad

Stuffing is big in my family for the holidays,” says Coad, a native Brooklynite who now lives in Summerville. Coad used a traditional cornbread stuffing as the basis for his pumpkin riff, which also features jalapenos and Italian sausage.

Coad acknowledges that peppers, garlic and oregano may represent a departure from the standard palette of savory Thanksgiving flavors in some households, so he's made the seasoning optional. Regardless of spicing, though, the stuffing should end up in the shell of the cheddar pumpkin used to make the dish.

“We use the pumpkin as a baking vessel,” Coad explains. When cooked, the whole pumpkin is sliced, producing something like a pork-free porchetta.

Stuffed Pumpkin

Photo by Wade Spees/Staff

For the cornbread:

The cornbread must be made the day before, broken into pieces and left uncovered overnight on a baking sheet to dry out.

Ingredients

4 eggs

8 ounces unsalted butter, melted

2 cups buttermilk

2 cups yellow cornmeal

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.

Put the eggs in a medium-size bowl and lightly whisk. Whisk in the melted butter and buttermilk. Set aside.

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and mix well. Add wet ingredients and gently stir until a batter is formed. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Break the cornbread into approximately 1-inch pieces and place them on a baking sheet to dry overnight.

For the pumpkin and stuffing:

13- to 15-pound Cheddar pumpkin

Kosher salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1 cup diced yellow onion

2 ribs celery, diced

1 pound ground Italian sausage

2 jalapeno peppers, minced

1 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Cornbread

8 ounces chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set up a middle rack with enough room above it for the pumpkin. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a vegetable brush, scrub the pumpkin under running water. Cut the top off of the pumpkin and scrape out the fiber and seeds. Season the inside of the pumpkin liberally with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft. Add the Italian sausage and crumble it up with a fork. Add the jalapenos and cook the mixture until sausage is nicely browned. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Combine cranberries, sage, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Add crumbled cornbread and toss well. Fold in the sausage mixture. Spoon stuffing into the pumpkin. Pour the stock evenly over the top of the stuffing. Place the pumpkin on the prepared baking sheet and put on the middle rack in the oven. Roast the pumpkin until it is fork-tender and the stuffing is slightly dry around the top, 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool until comfortable to handle, about 10 minutes. To serve, cut slices of pumpkin and stuffing so that you get the pumpkin's flesh, too, or just scoop stuffing out of the pumpkin.

Created by Jordan Fagan

Makes 2 loaf pans of semifreddo (8 to 10 servings)

When Jordan Fagan first experimented with semifreddo, the classic near-ice cream that quivers like mousse, she used a method borrowed from professional kitchens. “The sugar boiled over and made a mess,” she reports. So she tweaked her ingredient list and technique with the home cook in mind, hitting on a recipe that calls for whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and a touch of alcohol to keep the concoction from freezing solid.

“It's so easy,” says Fagan, a pastry student who lives in Park Circle. “You can make ice cream without needing to use a churn or have an ice cream maker.”

The Pumpkin Semifreddo can be shaped with a silicon mold, or formed in a loaf pan; flipped out and dusted with gingersnap crumbs, a trick which Fagan describes as being as simple as the recipe itself.

“It's kind of dangerous knowledge,” she says, alluding to her urge to make semifreddo all the time.

Pumpkin Semifreddo

Photo by Wade Spees/Staff

Ingredients

4- to 5-pound white pumpkin

1 cup strained pumpkin puree

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

4 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

Graham or gingersnap crumbs and/or whole cookies (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a vegetable brush, scrub the pumpkin under running water. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the fiber and seeds. Cut the halves into slices and put them on a rimmed baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the oven and add enough water to coat the bottom of the pan. Bake the pumpkin slices until they are fork-tender, 1 to 11/2 hours.

Let the pumpkin cool to room temperature. Cut the flesh away from the rind and puree the flesh in a food processor until smooth. Remove the excess liquid by putting the puree into a large sieve and putting a plate on top of it to weigh it down. Sit the sieve over a bowl to catch the juice. Let the puree drain for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it thickens.

Line two loaf pans with plastic wrap with ample wrap overhanging the sides to use to remove the semifreddo from the pans.

Put the pureed pumpkin, condensed milk, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Whip the heavy cream to medium peaks. (When you take the whisk out, the cream will hold a peak with a slightly curved tip). Gently fold a third of the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream, being careful to not leave any streaks of whipped cream but also not to fold the air out.

Divide the mixture between the two loaf pans. Cover the tops with cookie crumbs if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 6 hours, or until completely frozen. When ready to serve the semifreddo, you can remove it from the pans by using the overhanging plastic wrap as handles and slice it, or you can scoop servings straight from the pans into bowls. Garnish with cookie crumbs and/or whole cookies if desired.

Created by Rachel Allen

Since she's studying nutrition, Allen wanted to come up with a dessert that tasted “decadent” but wasn't as sweet and heavy as Thanksgiving pumpkin pie can be. She settled on using pumpkin as her “fat” instead of butter and eggs.

Culinary Institute of Charleston instructor Randy Williams says he was initially skeptical that the cake would have the right texture. “You would be surprised. It slices without crumbling.”

To make up for the thinner flavor contributed by coconut oil, Allen added roasted cinnamon and salted caramel to the cake. She also used dark chocolate to counterbalance the pumpkin.

Fellow student Daven Coad, who says he finds most fruit too sweet, typically can't eat an entire piece of cake. “That cake, I had two nice-size slices.”

Chocolate pumpkin bundt cake with spiced cream cheese icing and salted caramel drizzle

For the cake:

6-pound pie pumpkin

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon (McCormick's roasted Saigon cinnamon recommended)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups roasted pumpkin puree

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

White of 1 large egg

1/4 cup coconut or canola oil

1/4 cup pure grade A maple syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup melted dark or bittersweet chocolate (about 4 ounces)

3/4 cup 60 percent bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a vegetable brush, scrub the pumpkin under running water. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the fiber and seeds. Place the halves cut-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin until it is fork-tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Let the pumpkin cool to room temperature. Cut the flesh away from the rind and puree the flesh in a food processor until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Put the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Be sure that there are no lumps.

Put the buttermilk, pumpkin puree and brown sugar in large mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Whisk in the egg and egg white. Whisk in the oil, maple syrup, vanilla and melted chocolate. Slowly add the dry ingredients, whisking until well combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Transfer the batter to the Bundt pan. Bake the cake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool before removing from the pan.

The cake can be made up to a week ahead and frozen or up to two days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before decorating.

For the Spiced Cream Cheese Icing:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces cream cheese

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (McCormick's roasted Saigon cinnamon recommended)

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Put the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat until creamed and no lumps remain. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, powdered sugar, and cream and beat until light and fluffy. Set aside.

The icing can be made up to two days ahead if refrigerated in a covered container. Let come to room temperature before using.

For the Salted Caramel:

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, without stirring, until it turns a dark amber color. Add the butter (expect bubbling) and mix until combined. Add the heavy cream, vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

The caramel can be made up to two days ahead if refrigerated in a covered container. Let come to room temperature before using.

Candied Pumpkin Seeds

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, McCormick's roasted Saigon cinnamon recommended

1 cup toasted hulled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Heat the brown sugar in a small frying pan. Add the butter, cinnamon and pumpkin seeds, mix well, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Spread the seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment and let cool.

To finish the cake:

Drizzle the cream cheese icing on the cake. Then drizzle on salted caramel. Garnish with candied pumpkin seeds. Once decorated, it is best served within 4 hours.