around this time of year growing up, my mom and i would begin to draft our game plan for operation christmas cookie. we’d select about five or six different types of confectionery creations -magic bars, emma’s bark, something non-traditional like a rice krispie treat, and of course, the traditional chocolate chip. then on a december saturday, we’d bake. for hours on end. until we were covered in flour and smelled like vanilla and were nursing a wicked sugar coma. and when the cookies had cooled, we’d divvy up the spoils into candy-cane adorned plastic baggies, which we then tied up with decorative ribbon and personalized name tags, a gift of love (and sugar) from our kitchen to yours.
this year, momma and i thought we’d mix it up with a homemade package of another variety. a gift that could keep on giving long after the pine needles were vacuumed up and the christmas tinsel was packed away for another year. so we settled on pumpkin butter. and let me tell you, upon making it this past weekend, i can confidently say that our baking endeavor was not performed in vain. it’s absolutely delicious. like liquid crack. except good for you. so far i have enjoyed it on gluten-free toast, with an apple, but mostly just by the spoonful.
as a “thank you” for a successful 2013, i gave them out to my colleagues as christmas gifts this year. considering everyone is still alive and well, i’d say this particular culinary adventure was a success! so if you’re looking to take a holiday hiatus from the rolling pin, bundt pan, and baking sheets this year, i highly suggest impressing your loved ones with some homemade pumpkin spread.
pumpkin butter (as adapted from skinnytaste)
(makes enough to fill 12 4 oz. mason jars)
3 1/2 cups pumpkin puree, or 1 (29 ounce) can (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup apple cider or juice
1 cup packed brown sugar
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (to taste)
combine pureed pumpkin, vanilla, apple juice, spices, cinnamon sticks and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. bring mixture to a boil. reduce heat, and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until thickened. stir frequently. adjust spices to your taste.
you guys, this recipe couldn’t be easier. just make sure to remove the cinnamon sticks before you start dividing the mixture into your desired containers. mom and i used 4 oz. mason jars (purchased at wal-mart) to package our portions and i customized them with a little hand-written paper tag stating christmas wishes and recommended refrigeration instructions.