“Fall in love with Ridgefield” was the theme for numerous food events over the weekend but I was most interested in all things pumpkin. The call went out to professional and amateurs asking for recipes both sweet and savory and the contest was on. I was honored to judge with Michele Stuart of Michele’s Pies
in Norwalk and Westport, CT.
Michele Stuart has been the queen of pumpkin in my view, since she went toe to toe with Bobby Flay in a pumpkin pie throwdown in 2009. Her maple pumpkin with pecan streusel pie is featured in Flay’s THROWDOWN cookbook but why not support our local star and find it in Michele’s beautifully photographed and user friendly book, PERFECT PIES? Michele and I judged 12 recipes by tasting each product and evaluating flavor, use of pumpkin (we wanted it to dominate other flavors), and originality. We threw in aesthetics, too, of course.
The winner in the professional category was Kaitlyn Lennox Christoff, executive pastry chef of Sweetooth
, opening in Katonah, NY, in November. Her pumpkin cupcake with chai spice frosting
was an easy favorite. Organic canned pumpkin provided the pleasantly dominant pumpkin punch and chai flavors, mixed by the baker for her cream cheese frosting, made for a distinctively spicy kick.
The first prize in the amateur category went to Jessica Pizzo for her moist and delicious pumpkin cupcakes in a ginger graham cracker crust topped with maple cream cheese frosting.
The people’s choice went to Paul Desiano, Cello Restaurant, for his rich and piquant Mexican Pumpkin Soup. All winners received gift certificates for Marketplace businesses, which include nine food related shops in one convenient location. The gathering of these small businesses feels a bit like Europe and is well worth visiting. Check out Ridgefield Organics, 109 Cheese & Wine, Southwest Café, The Cakebox, Cello Restaurant, Ross Bread, Tre Restaurant, The Cutting Board, Everywoman’s Spirit.
Pumpkin cupcake with Chai spice frosting
Kaitlyn Lennox Christoff was the winner of the Pumpkin Recipe Contest sponsored by the Marketplace in Ridgefield, CT. on October 15, 2011. She mixes her own Chai for the frosting, which makes it particularly fragrant and interesting. She is a grad of the Culinary Institute of America and is opening her own bakery, SWEET TOOTH, in Katonah, NY in November 2011.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla ext.
- 2 cups canned pumpkin
- 4 Eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 sticks butter
- 16 oz. cream cheese
- 2 lbs. powdered sugar
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp ground all spice
- 2 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp ground white pepper
- 1 Tb cardamom
- ½ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350
- In a mixer combine sugar, oil, pumpkin and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed.
- Add combined dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Pour into cupcake liners and bake about 15 minutes, or until center is done.
- Cream the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until just combined on medium speed.
- Add the vanilla and spices until just combined.
- Spoon or pipe on top of cake after it has cooled.
- Garnish with candied pumpkin slices or sprinkles and serve with warm apple cider.