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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Serendipity: Pumpkin Cheese Pie with Toffee and Caramel Swirl

pumpkincheesepie2

Have you ever noticed that the most exciting inventions and breakthrough discoveries are sometimes stumbled upon purely by accident? From medical research, to science and technology right on down to recipes, some of our biggest boo boos can be and have been turned into "Eureka!" moments. For example, the discoveries of penicillin, quinine, the smallpox vaccine and even x-rays were all the happened upon by accident. Indispensable innovations like the microwave, the pacemaker, the computer mouse and even Post-Its were invented by chance.

So then, what about serendipity in the kitchen? Many of you may be familiar with the story of Ruth Wakefield, the inventor of the original chocolate chip cookie. In the 1930s, Ruth and her husband owned the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts. One evening in 1937, she was making butter cookies for her guests and thought she would make them all chocolate instead. She cut a bar of chocolate into tiny pieces and added them to the cookie dough, thinking that the chocolate would melt completely, giving her chocolate butter cookies. When the cookies came out of the oven, the chocolate hadn't melted at all! Instead, the "chocolate chips" had kept their form. Thus, the Toll House chocolate chip cookie was born and went on to become the most popular and well-known cookie of all time!

I've certainly had my share of culinary flops that I was able to transform into some pretty terrific recipes. This decadent and devastatingly delicious Pumpkin Cheese Pie with Toffee and Caramel Swirl is a perfect example. Let me tell you how it came to be.

pumpkincheesepie3

It all started with some very disappointing sugar cookies that I made last week. They were the refrigerator kind that come ready to bake (not Pillsbury). Mini SGCC sneaked them into my cart at the supermarket and I never even noticed them until I got home. Since I had them, I decided to pop them in the oven for a quick snack. They were awful! The cookies spread into flat, sugary pancakes that all ran into each other. They also had a very artificial vanilla taste. Not good at all. I hated to just throw them away, so I stuck them in a zip lock bag, figuring that I might be able to use them for something later.

A few days later, I made pumpkin muffins for my Tuesdays with Dorie assignment. I ended up with some leftover pumpkin puree, which I also saved for another use.

Still later, I was twirling some ideas around in my head for what to make for October's edition of Sugar High Friday. The very appropriate theme for this month is "Spices", and is being hosted by the very talented and creative Anita from Dessert First.

SugarHighFridays

I decided to mix my leftover pumpkin with cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to make a pie. I already had the ingredients needed for the filling, so all I needed to do was figure out what to use for my crust. That was when I had my "Eureka!" moment. The sugar cookies! It was brilliant!

I tossed those cookies into the food processor with a touch more cinnamon and pulverized them into crumbs. Then, I mixed in some melted butter and voila! Pie crust!

To take the pie up a notch, I mixed some toffee bits that were hanging around into the filling and swirled globs of dulce de leche all through it. To make it a little prettier, I also spread a layer of dulce de leche on top of the pie and piped little dulce de leche blobs all around the perimeter.

pumpkincheesepie1

Let me tell you, this pie was To. Die. For! Really, it was amazing! The filling was oh, so rich and creamy, with gorgeous, thick caramel ribbons running through it. The toffee bits added a just a little bit of crunch. And the crust? Well, the crust worked out beautifully. It tasted great, yet it didn't interfere with the other flavors in the pie. You could certainly use any kind of cookie crumbs you like. If I hadn't had the sugar cookies, I probably would have tried this with ginger snaps.

As I contemplated my accidental triumph, I was reminded of the old adage, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Well, when life give you crappy sugar cookies, make pie crust!

Serendipity!

Pumpkin Cheese Pie with Toffee and Caramel Swirl (aka Serendipity Pie) (Printable Recipe)

For the crust:

2 cups sugar cookie crumbs (pulverize 6-8 large sugar cookies in the food processor)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In a medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs, cinnamon and melted butter until well blended. Press mixture into an 8 or 9 inch pie plate.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Cool.

For the filling:

2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup sugar ( Use more or less according to your taste)

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup toffee bits

2 cups dulce de leche or caramel sauce of your choice, divided. (You may have to soften the dulce de leche to make it "swirlable". I microwaved mine on 50% power for about 10-15 seconds.)

Beat cream cheese and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg and beat until completely combined.

Mix in the toffee bits and swirl in 1 cup of the dulce de leche or caramel sauce.

Pour the filling into the pie plate and smooth it out. Refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

Spread the second cup of dulce de leche or caramel sauce evenly over the top of the pie.

If desired, use another 1/2 cup of dulce de leche to pipe rosettes or other design on top of the pie.

Chill until the topping is firm.

Enjoy!


72 comments:

CookiePie said...

YUM! As usual, your dessert looks absolutely mouth-watering, and your creativity is inspiring! Save me a slice!

Peter M said...

Susan, this cake is worthy of being entered and winning any of those Food Network challenges...I'm again impressed and humbled. I can hope to one day bake like this.

kim said...

that looks so amazing!!! my mouth is watering :) thanks for the recipe!

Engineer Baker said...

Okay, if my sort of serendipity looked and tasted like that, I'd be a happy girl. Instead, it's probably more like the lamented refrigerator sugar cookies :P I'll stick to recipes.

Lindsey said...

Wow! Seriously drooling over here...that looks so incredibly yummy. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

{ Lindsey }
www.coveiter.com

Dianne said...

Oh wow! That looks fabulous! The center looks so creamy and heavenly and the top just splendid! I think I'm actually drooling just a little! ;)

Gretchen Noelle said...

OK. Yum. And I love that you call them blobs! This looks amazingly delicious!!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Wow, that looks rich and delicious! My kind of dessert!

Zoe Francois said...

What a lucky discovery, it looks absolutely delicious!!! Perhaps we all need to make more "mistakes!"

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

That looks so incredible Susan. I love the crust!

nicisme said...

I would love to eat each caramel swirl and then dive into the filling - looks sooo good!

erin :: the olive notes said...

this sounds AMAZING! It's definitely on my list of things to make next week when I'm off of a fasting detox this week (why am I even ready this now?!?!) :)

Jeena said...

The whole slice look sooo good but those little swirls are so so cute. :-)

Kevin said...

Great way to use those odds and ends!! It looks so decadent and good! The toffee and caramel topping has an an amazing colour.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I am loving the topping. It looks so rich.

Patsyk said...

I love when great things can be made from 'so-so' ingredients. Your pie looks decadent... like all of your other desserts!

Manggy said...

Hee! Serendipity pie! I am glad you stuck it out for the awful dough then :) The pie looks quite majestic. Everyone's making pumpkin desserts but me, though! I wonder if I could just substitute our squashes? I love the dulce de leche accents :)

I happen to know for a fact that post-its were created by Romy White and Michele Weinberger, after an episode of paper clip frustration. I hope that's not an obscure movie reference, heh :)

squawmama said...

OH MY!!! This is one for the blogger recipe archives... I will be making this as soon as I get back to our home base in Florida... My little grandkids will love it...Thanks Susan

YUMMO!
(((HUGS)))
Donna

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

This looks incredible......I am ALWAYS looking for ways to use pumpkin. I love it.

noble pig said...

I am so in love here, wow, this is so beautiful. The topping is just amazing...wow, you've outdone yourself here!

haleysuzanne said...

This looks absolutely delicious! This might very well grace my Thanksgiving table! Beautiful presentation.

Ning said...

Wow! For a serendipity pie, this looks amazing and I bet it is absolutely delicious! You are truly very creative! :)

Colleen said...

SHEESH I havent had breakfast yet........just wiping the drool off my gobsmacked face!!! This looks sublime, you are amazing!!! Ive so gotta make this, thanx xxx

NĂºria said...

Susan, only by looking at your cake I think I gained 3 kilos, lol! It's a sculpture to DELICIOUSNESS!!!
A fantastic job. Why couldn't we be neighbours?????

joanne at frutto della passione said...

I actually exclaimed aloud when I saw the picture which brought all the ladies in the office scurrying over to my computer and after everyone ooohed and aaahed I had to print the recipe out 6 times for everyone!!!
My oh my that is one sexy pie!

Rose&Thorn said...

I love that, when you think all is lost and then you end up with something that good! Well done.

Cristine said...

WOW! Glad you had lemons and decided to make lemonade! That pie looks fabulous!!!!

Choosy Beggar Tina said...

I was just ogling your picture on Food Gawker......

Darius T. Williams said...

I can totally see why this is to die for - I can see why. This looks amazing...I'm craving it now - lol!

-DTW
www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

once in a blue moon... said...

it looks wonderful, very creative leftover pie!

Ingrid said...

That's so impressive that you are able to take a few left over ingredients and make something so pretty AND YUMMY! I can't wait until I get to that point, I'm almost to the point of being comfortable just tweaking a recipe to suit my taste.

Great Looking pie!
~ingrid

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Thank you all so much for all of your great comments! I've really enjoyed them. I'm so glad that you all liked my little pie invention! Honestly, coming up with new recipes like this gives me such a rush. I wish I had more time to play around like this!

Peter- You are too kind! Thank you. You made my day! :D

Engineer Baker- Pshaw! Have faith! ;)

Gretchen- I couldn't think of a prettier word to describe them. ;)

Manggy- Thanks! I don't see why you couldn't use any yellow or orange fleshed squash. You could probably even get away with using sweet potato or yam.

I remember Romy and Michelle well. Very resourceful ladies! ;)

Haley- Wow! If you do make it, let me know how it goes over.

Nuria- Being neighbors with you would be wonderful! I'd make you teach me how to make all of your fab recipes. I'd be such a pest! ;)

Joanne- Lol! Maybe I should call it Sexy Serendipity Pie. ;)

Ingrid- All you need is time and willing guinea pigs for tasting!

Maria said...

Anything with toffee has a special palce in my heart. Looks fantastic!

Elra said...

OMG, that is very good looking cheese pie. Delicious indeed!

Deborah said...

I wish my kitchen tragedies would turn into a work of art like this! I'll take a slice, please!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

For starting with a set of leftovers, you made a real beauty of a treat here! This sounds delicious and looks oh so good. Great work!

Cakebrain said...

I figure anything with dulce de leche has got to be super delicious! It looks like it for sure!

Debbie said...

What an absolutely beautiful cake. I wish I could have a slice of it right now...Just gorgeous!

Pam said...

Wow. That is beautiful! I am not kidding when I say I am drooling. Really nice photos too.

Stephanie said...

The inside of this pie looks like just the right consistency--firm but a little gooey! And I'm all about pumpkin this time of year.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Wo. My 9 yo son came running over when he heard me exclaim "OMG!". Then he said "Oh Man. Mommy will you make that please?" Think I will. Thanks for your invention!

Tartelette said...

That looks incredibly decadent! All that dulce de leche...yum!!

Sandy said...

That is one beautiful pie!

Heather said...

aren't you a crafty little cook! what a neat-o idea :) this looks lovely!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Susan, Your creative baking is blowing me away! The top of that pie is stunning!!

Katie said...

Am I in heaven? This looks incredible!

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

whosever blog i choose to read today, it seems to feature pumpkin - now i have a tone of ideas about what to do with the pumpkin i've been given!

Grace said...

first of all, i love how you made sure we knew that the offender wasn't pillsbury. :)
secondly, good googa mooga! my accidents never turn out like this. heck, my best laid plans don't even turn out like this! awesome, susan. :)

alexandra's kitchen said...

that is an incredible. i only wish i could be more inventive. this cake looks light (in texture) and delicious!

alexandra's kitchen said...

i meant pie. not cake. i got distracted by the cupcake vs. muffin debate below.

RecipeGirl said...

This does look absolutely to die for. How do you create such wonderful things? Wish I had your talent!

Elly said...

This is incredible. From the sugar cookie crust right on up to the toffee. I am SO making this one.

Meg said...

Beyond amazing! The best Fall recipe ever! A pumpkin dream come true!

Foodycat said...

Oh my. That is amazing! I thought the whole pie looked good but then the picture of the slice? So delicious! I would love to try it.

Snooky doodle said...

wow this really looks delicous so creamy and caramelly :-) I be never done pumkin cheesecake but this one is tepmting me :)

veron said...

Oh susan, what a perfect entry to sugar high friday. This looks so decadent. And here is a toast to serendipity !

Laura said...

Brilliant use of the cookies. And I want to swim in your pictures--with my mouth open. :)

Laurie said...

Goodness that pie looks awesome! And so, so beautiful. The Leftover Queen would be proud. I LOVED your fairy tale and cake too. Dreamy story and gorgeous cake.

Cakelaw said...

You can't do this to me Susan - you can't post photos of gorgeous looking desserts like this, knowing that I cannot have any! This looks absolutely amazing - I do not exaggerate. Have to bookmark this one.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, Susan, this looks absolutely incredible and is making my mouth water... what Serendipity!

Dharm said...

That looks simply scrumptious!!!

cakewardrobe said...

though I'm relatively inexperienced in the baking world and follow recipes mostly 1:1, I am starting to add secret ingredients in everything and turning my kitchen into a science lab. I hope nothing blows up on me one day! hahha. This looks delicious!! Can I have the scraps? If there are any!

Melissa said...

this is unbelievable..i'm drooling as we speak. I will be making this tonight with all of my leftover pumpkin puree!

You're amazing!

Kristen said...

What a wonderful accidental treat! It looks mouth watering. Tummy grumbling now... off to create an accident of my own :)

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Wonderful use of leftovers! You're a kitchen genius and should be awarded a medal for this pie.

Lo said...

I am telling you, the texture of that dessert alone has me screaming for a slice! It sounds absolutely fabulous.

Melissa said...

I made this last night...I used a chocolate crust (chocolate teddy graham) and used 8oz of cream cheese+8oz of mascarpone cheese.

This was beyond delicious. The dulce de leche REALLY made this pie wondrous!

Thanks for the recipe!!!

Judith said...

I have to love anything covered in toffee!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Stunning. Simply stunning.

Rhiani said...

Wow! Susan, this looks great! I'm catching up on your blog after my 2 weeks hiatus and this looks like a perfect thanksgiving dessert to me!

Jo. said...

You're simply killing me with your great recipes and even greated photos. And since I love toffee this pumpkin pie will for sure become my favourite.

Colleen said...

This looks fantastic! I can't wait to make it!