In your family, are there hallowed family traditions to follow as we head to the glorious cooking season inspired by fall/winter holidays? At my house, pumpkin, apple and pecan pie are always on the menu. But then some of us get a desire for something a little different at a holiday dinner or dessert bar! Pumpkin Pie Dessert carries the traditional taste but with a festive flair, and comes from a Mennonite cookbook, Mennonite Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley.
Amish and Mennonites are frequently known for their cooking, especially since the 1950s as popular cookbooks flowed from Mennonite publishers like Herald Press and Good Books. Some of the bestselling titles include Mennonite Community Cookbook, More-with-Less Cookbook, Mennonite Country-Style Recipes & Kitchen Secrets (all from Herald Press, the first two with recently updated anniversary editions), and the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook string of books (Good Books). Many smaller presses churn out church cookbooks as fundraiser projects for women’s groups and more. Any stop at a small Amish store or restaurant in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania or Ontario will probably yield several local family or church group cookbooks to explore.
This recipe is typical of Mennonite and Amish cookbooks and unabashedly rich: butter, pecans, cake mix, and oh yes, whipped cream or topping to finish it off. The beauty is it’s simple to make, almost goof proof, and likely to win some raves and new fans. But take the place of Grandmother’s favorite pumpkin pie? Probably not. Something to serve every day? Not so much.
Pumpkin Pie Dessert
(Originally by Lillian Kiser, Harrisonburg, Va. Adapted from Mennonite Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley, Good Books, 1999). Makes 15-20 2 x 2 servings.
1 box yellow cake mix
½ cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
3 cups pumpkin
1 teaspoon ginger (or less as desired)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or less)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs beaten
¼ tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup chopped pecans
Measure out 1 cup dry cake mix and set aside.
Combine remaining cake mix, melted butter, and egg. Press into greased 9 x 13 pan.
Mix together pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, sugar, 2 eggs, salt, and milk. Pour over crust mixture.
Mix together reserved cake mix, cinnamon, and sugar. Cut in softened butter to form crumbs. Sprinkle over top. Also sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until firm in center. Serve warm or cold. Top with whipped topping.
My book Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime celebrates various cooking traditions—as well as the tradition of keeping family mealtime. It also has several wonderful holiday recipes throughout, and more in a chapter on teaching kids party etiquette called “Why You Don’t Eat Ham with Your Fingers at a Banquet.”
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Melodie M. Davis is the author of nine books, most recently, Whatever Happened to Dinner: Recipes and Reflections for Family Mealtime (Herald Press, 2010). She writes the syndicated column, Another Way, serves as a managing editor for Herald Press, and is also editor of a local family publication, Valley Living. She keeps a blog where she features frequent recipes from her home, family and church life. She is married and the mother of three adult daughters and two grandsons.