The season of pumpkin is upon us: that magical time just before Halloween through Thanksgiving when pumpkins are baked, pureed, and served up in a variety of forms. Our search for pumpkin-flavored edibles at local restaurants lead us on a journey involving cheesecake, waffles, ice cream, beer, and bread--the pie is certainly not the limit when it comes to pumpkin.
1. Petunia's Pumpkin Ale at Town Hall Brewery
This annual fall brew from Town Hall in Minneapolis is so anticipated that it once sold out in less than six days. Pumpkins and spices, which are added to the ale before its second fermentation, give it a pumpkin flavor, says general manager Matt Zastroy. The beer launched October 18 this year, and it will be available until it runs out--Zastroy doesn't give it more than a few weeks. "People like that beer, so generally it doesn't have a long time on tap," Zastroy says.
2. Fresh Pumpkin Ice Cream from Pumphouse Creamery
Owner Barb Zapzalka roasts and purees fresh Long Island Cheese Squash and adds pumpkin pie spices to create Pumphouse's signature pumpkin ice cream. The squash (yep, it's called squash, but it looks and tastes like a pumpkin) gives the ice cream a light orange-brown hue and provides a rich pumpkin flavor, without making it heavy. Zapzalka says the pumpkin ice cream is one of the most popular fall flavors at the south Minneapolis ice cream shop, and she expects to have it available through Thanksgiving--and possibly into the Christmas season.
3. Pumpkin Bread (and Cookies!) from Great Harvest Bread Co.
With pumpkin and white chocolate cookies, pumpkin chocolate chip tea bread, pumpkin swirl yeast bread, and pumpkin spice bread, the Great Harvest Bread Co. in St. Paul is a pumpkin-lovers dream this season. The pumpkin swirl bread is a whole wheat bread made with pumpkin and almonds that has a "swirl" of brown sugar and spices running through it. You'll find it every Wednesday through Saturday in November, and the pumpkin cookies are available every day, says owner Bonnie Alton. Visit the bakery's website for a complete baking schedule for October and November.
4. Pumpkin Cheesecake from Cafe Latte
Pastry manager Ali Boese tries to stock the dessert case with at least one pumpkin dessert each day during this season. And with a repertoire of pumpkin desserts featuring a pumpkin pecan tart, pumpkin mousse tart, rum pumpkin torte and more, it's not hard to do. But it's the pumpkin white chocolate cheesecake that seems to be the customer favorite at Cafe Latte in St. Paul. To make it, Boese mixes pumpkin, maple syrup and pumpkin spices into cheesecake batter. Once it's baked, the cake is topped with a white chocolate truffle ganache. "We sell a ton of those," Boese says.
5. Pumpkin Buckwheat Waffles from Hot Plate
You don't have to wait until October or November for Pumpkin Buckwheat Waffles at Hot Plate in south Minneapolis. The waffles--which are made with buckwheat and pumpkin, then topped with caramelized pecans, whipped cream and spices--are a customer favorite year round. Cook Nadine Hester sums it up: "They're just awesome waffles."