Food blogger Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest shares some mouthwatering pumpkin dishes to add to your repertoire.

Roasted Garlic Sage Pesto Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Fried Pumpkin Seeds
Chipotle Pumpkin Soup with Crispy Chorizo and Caramelized Apples
Crockpot Chipotle Pulled Pork Pumpkin Chili with Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Thai Pumpkin Laksa with Crunchy Fried Chickpeas

This roasted garlic sage pesto pumpkin soup with spicy fried pumpkin seeds is the perfect meal for a cool autumn day—to increase the festive feel, serve in hollowed out small pumpkins. Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

ROASTED GARLIC SAGE PESTO PUMPKIN SOUP WITH SPICY FRIED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Prep time: 15 minutes

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

For the soup:

  • 1 large sugar or pie pumpkin cut in half and seeds removed and reserved (plus 4 small ones if you are making the pumpkin bowls)
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil (separated)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 small shallots chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk + 1 cup water or 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or more or less to your liking)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

For the sage pesto:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • ½ cup fresh sage
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (if you don’t like blue cheese, you can use feta or parmesan)
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • salt to taste

For the fried pumpkin seeds:

  • reserved pumpkin seeds from above
  • 1 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp brown sugar
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the pumpkin in half or into fourths and reserve the pumpkin seeds for later.
  3. Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and rub the pumpkin with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves. Peel any excess paper/skin off from the bulb of garlic. (The garlic will go in the sage pesto, but you’ll roast it with the pumpkin now.)
  5. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on top of the garlic cloves and cover with foil.
  6. Roast both the pumpkin and garlic together on the same baking sheet for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork-tender and the garlic is golden brown and soft.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow everything to cool for 5 minutes. Squeeze garlic out of the paper skin into a small bowl and mash well with a fork. Set aside.
  8. Put the pumpkin in a food processor (or mash extremely well) and puree with 1 cup of the chicken broth. Puree until completely smooth.
  9. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the butter and shallots. Sauté the shallots until soft, for about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook another 30 seconds.
  10. Add the pumpkin puree, remaining chicken broth, coconut milk, water, cayenne, nutmeg, maple syrup, and crushed red pepper.
  11. Bring the soup to a low simmer and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. While the soup cooks, make the pesto:
    • Add the roasted garlic, parsley, sage and pistachios to the bowl of a food processor.
    • Pulse until finely chopped and then stream in the olive oil.
    • Add the cheese and pulse a few more times until combined.
    • Season with salt and pepper.
  13. To fry the pumpkin seeds:
    • Add the reserved pumpkin seeds to a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon coconut milk and 1 tablespoon flour.
    • In a small bowl, combine the chipotle chili powder, pepper, and brown sugar.
    • Place a skillet on the stove top and set to medium heat. Add the olive oil.
    • Once the oil is hot, add the pumpkin seeds into the pan, but be careful! Stir the pumpkin seeds around in the skillet with a spoon or spatula continuously until they expand and start to brown.
    • Once the seeds are browned remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel to drain.
    • Toss with the chili powder mix and a good pinch of salt.
    • Taste and season accordingly.
  14. If you want to make the roasted pumpkin soup bowls:
    • Remove the tops of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds.
    • Rub the insides of the pumpkins with olive oil, salt and pepper.
    • Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or just until soft to the touch, but not falling in.
  15. To assemble, ladle the soup into bowls (or your roasted pumpkins) and top each bowl with a dollop of pesto, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds, and, if desired, drizzle with coconut milk. Start slurpin’!

CHIPOTLE PUMPKIN SOUP WITH CRISPY CHORIZO AND CARAMELIZED APPLES

Make this chipotle pumpkin soup with crispy chorizo and glazed apples for a meal that’s both tasty and pretty. Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced and 2 tsp adobo sauce
  • 4 cups pumpkin puree*
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken or veggie broth
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese plus more for topping
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or canned coconut milk
  • 1 apple chopped (I used honeycrisp)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • ½ pound fresh ground chorizo

Instructions:

  1. In a large soup pot, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chipotle peppers and the two teaspoons adobo sauce. Stir and cook for another minute or so.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree and stir to combine.
  5. Pour in the chicken or veggie broth, add the chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
  6. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender and blend until very smooth.
  7. Add the cheddar cheese and heavy cream, then stir until cheese is melted.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the soup to simmer on the stove for 15 minutes while you make the topping.
  9. Make the topping:
    • Heat remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over high heat.
    • Combine the apple and brown sugar, then cook, turning, until caramelized.
    • Set aside and wipe the pan clean.
    • Add the chorizo and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked through and crisp.
    • Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel, reserving pan juices.
  10. To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl topped with crispy chorizo and glazed apples.
  11. Drizzle with the chorizo oil left in the pan. Enjoy!

CROCKPOT CHIPOTLE PULLED PORK PUMPKIN CHILI WITH CINNAMON ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

Make the most of your pumpkin—use its flesh and seeds to make this crockpot chipotle pulled pork and pumpkin chili with roasted pumpkin seeds. Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

Prep Time: 10 minutes (Cook time is 7 hours, so plan ahead)

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 (2-3 pound) pork shoulder roast or butt
  • 4 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (12 ounce) beer (I use pumpkin beer)
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1 can (28-oz) fired-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
  • 4 cups fresh pumpkin, diced (or 1 can or pumpkin puree)*
  • 1 (14 oz) can black beans rinsed and drained (optional)
  • shredded sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream or greek yogurt, and cilantro, for topping
  • beer bread for serving

For the cinnamon-sugar pumpkin seeds:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

  1. Add the pork to the bowl of a crockpot. Drizzle the honey over the pork and then sprinkle with chili powder, paprika, chipotle chili powder, cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne and season with ½ teaspoon salt.
  2. Add the bay leaves, then pour in the beer, cider vinegar, Worcestershire, fire-roasted tomatoes, and tomato paste. Add the cubed pumpkin and stir to combine.
  3. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours (I recommend going low and slow).
  4. Just before you are ready to shred the pork, make the pumpkin seeds:
    • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    • In a heavy-bottomed medium skillet, add the butter and melt over medium heat until just browned. Butter will melt, foam, and froth, and then begin to brown along the bottom. Whisk the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.
    • Remove from the heat and stir in the pumpkin seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
    • Toss well and then spread the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
    • Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to make sure nothing is burning.
    • Remove from the oven. Taste and season with salt if desired.
  5. Remove the pork from the crockpot and let cool slightly. Lightly shred the pork with two forks or your hands and return the meat to the crockpot.
  6. Add the black beans. Toss well, cover, and warm through.
  7. If necessary, add a cup or so of chicken broth to the chili base until your desired consistency is reached.
  8. To serve, ladle the chili into bowls. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, cilantro, and shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the chili. Eat!

THAI PUMPKIN LAKSA WITH CRUNCHY FRIED CHICKPEAS

For a piquant meal, try Thai pumpkin laksa with crunchy fried chickpeas. Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

Prep Time 20 minutes

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

For the laska:

  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 red Fresno pepper, seeds removed and chopped (you may use a jalapeno if needed)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 small pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes (about 3 cups cubed)
  • 1 Tbsp rounded creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 can (14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 large bunch broccolini stems, trimmed
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint chopped
  • 8 oz rice noodles
  • arils from 1 pomegranate

For the crunchy fried chickpeas:

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add the sesame oil.
  2. Once hot, add the garlic, ginger, Fresno pepper and green onions.
  3. Cook 30 seconds to 1 minute or until soft and fragrant.
  4. Slowly stir in the chicken or vegetable broth, then add the cubed pumpkin.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork-tender.
  6. Add around half to 3/4 of the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Return the soup to the pot.
  7. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce, and coconut milk, stirring to combine. Add the broccoli and cook until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to package directions.
  9. Once the broccoli is tender, remove it from the heat and stir in the cilantro and mint. Ladle the soup into bowls and add a big handful of rice noodles. Top with crunchy fried chickpeas (recipe below) and pomegranate arils. Eat up!

For the crunchy fried chickpeas:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Spread the chickpeas onto a towel and dry them completely.
  3. Add the chickpeas to a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Toss well to evenly coat.
  4. Roast for 20 minutes, then stir the chickpeas and roast for another 20 minutes or until the chickpeas are browned and crunchy.
  5. Remove from the oven and serve warm atop the soup. Save any leftovers for snacking later!

Nutty Wild Rice and Shredded Brussels Sprouts Stuffed Mini Pumpkins
Roasted Pumpkin Seed Hummus
Thai Peanut Chicken and Pumpkin Curry with Sticky Pomegranate Rice

These cute gourds make the perfect vessel for nutty wild rice and shredded Brussels sprouts. Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

NUTTY WILD RICE AND SHREDDED BRUSSELS SPROUTS STUFFED MINI PUMPKINS

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Makes 6-8 mini pumpkins

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups water
  • 1¼ cups uncooked wild rice
  • 6 to 8 mini pumpkins
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ pounds brussels sprouts, halved and then shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 cup raw pecans chopped
  • ¼ apple cider
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup manchego cheese shredded (optional)

Instructions:

NOTE: These can be assembled up to 4 days in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to bake.

  1. In a large sauce pot, bring the water to a boil, then add the wild rice.
  2. Cover and cook over low heat for 35 to 45 minutes or until the water is gone and the rice is fluffy. Note that wild rice takes longer to cook than traditional rice. If yours still seem hard after 45 minutes, add ½ cup of additional water and cook over low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Slice the tops of your mini pumpkins and scoop out the seeds (reserve the seeds for roasting and topping the dish, if desired).
  5. Place the pumpkins on a baking sheet and rub each with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pumpkins are just tender.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the brussels sprouts in a single layer and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir. Continue to cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, until tender and caramelized.
  8. Stir in the thyme, pecans and cider. Cook another 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and add the wild rice (there should be around 3 cups of wild rice).
  10. Stir in the cranberries, and manchego cheese.
  11. Arrange the pumpkins in a large baking dish and stuff each pumpkin with the wild rice mixture. If desired, sprinkle the top of each pumpkin with a little manchego cheese.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 20 minutes or until the pumpkins are soft and the wild rice has heated through. Serve hot!

Dip pita bread in this roasted pumpkin seed hummus for a satisfying autumnal appetizer. Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

ROASTED PUMPKIN SEED HUMMUS

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups raw pepitas
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika, divided
  • 1 tsp chili powder, divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1½ cups cooked cannellini/great northern beans (or 1 can drained and rinsed)
  • ½ cup olive oil plus, more for drizzling
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pita bread for serving

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or line with aluminum foil.
  2. On the pan, add the pumpkin seeds (pepitas), 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon chili powder, salt and pepper. Toss well with your hands.
  3. Add the garlic cloves to one side of the pan (leave them in their skin).
  4. Roast for about 15 to 25 minutes or until seeds are cooked and begin to lightly brown. (Remove the pan every 10 minutes to stir the seeds and check for doneness.)
  5. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes, and then peel the skin away from the garlic. If the garlic is not tender and fragrant when the seeds are done roasting, wrap them in foil and continue to roast them until they are soft and roasted.
  6. Add the pumpkin seeds to a food processor and process until a smooth paste forms; scrape down the sides as needed. This took me about 5 minutes.
  7. Once the pumpkin seeds form a paste, add the beans and garlic. Pulse and blend until combined and the beans begin to puree, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. With the processor still going, stream in olive oil, blending continuously for a few minutes (and scraping down the sides if needed) until as smooth as desired.
  9. Add the remaining, ½ teaspoon of chili powder and smoked paprika.
  10. Blend until combined, then add some salt and pepper and taste.
  11. Add hummus to a bowl and drizzle with extra olive oil. Start dippin’!

Pomegranate seeds make a refreshing addition to this dish of Thai peanut chicken and pumpkin curry with sticky rice. Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

THAI PEANUT CHICKEN AND PUMPKIN CURRY WITH STICKY POMEGRANATE RICE

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

For the sticky pomegranate rice:

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp molasses
  • arils from one pomegranate
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the curry:

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 2½ cups fresh pumpkin cubed, or 1 cup canned pumpkin*
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
  • ¼ cup sweet thai chili sauce
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tsp curry powder (I like to use spicy curry powder)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ⅓ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
  • fresh naan for serving

*If using canned pumpkin, just stir it in with the coconut milk. You may need to add extra coconut milk to thin the sauce a bit.

Instructions:

  1. To make the sticky pomegranate rice:
    • Add the coconut milk and water to a medium size pot. Bring to a low boil and then add the rice. Stir to combine, then place the lid on the pot and turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible.
    • Allow the rice to cook for 10 minutes on low, then turn the heat off completely and let the rice sit on the stove, covered for another 15 to 20 minutes—don't take any peeks inside! (While the rice is cooking, make the curry—see below.)
    • Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.
    • When ready to eat, drizzle in 1 to 2 tablespoons molasses plus all the pomegranate arils, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the pomegranate arils are added, the rice should be eaten right away.
  2. To make the curry:
    • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil.
    • Once hot, add the cubed chicken and sauté it until it’s browned all over and cooked throughout, about 5 to 10 minutes.
    • Add the pumpkin and sauté for 2 minutes.
    • To the skillet add the coconut milk, sweet Thai chili sauce, peanut butter, soy sauce, Thai red curry paste, ginger, and curry powder.
    • Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
    • Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and lime juice.
  3. Serve the curry over the rice. Add a sprinkle of chopped peanuts and a handful of fresh pomegranate arils. Eat with Naan!

Salted Bourbon Pecan Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Covered Roasted Pumpkin Seed Turtle Clusters

Two delicious desserts collide in this salted bourbon pecan pumpkin pie. Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

SALTED BOURBON PECAN PUMPKIN PIE

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Makes an 8-inch pie

Ingredients:

For the crust (you can also use a store-bought crust):

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ⅓ cup cold buttermilk, plus more if needed

For the pumpkin filling:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin-pie mix)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice**
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the pecan filling:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup you may sub corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp bourbon (optional)
  • ½ cups raw pecans
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • flaky sea salt for sprinkling

**To make your own pumpkin pie spice, mix together 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ginger, and ⅛ tsp nutmeg.

Instructions:

To make the crust:

  1. Place the all-purpose flour and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and use your fingers to break the butter into the flour until mixture resembles small peas.
  2. Whisk egg yolk with ¼ cup cold buttermilk in a small bowl, then add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  3. Mix with a wooden spoon, drizzling in more buttermilk as needed (no more than 1 tablespoon at a time), until dough just comes together (a few dry spots are OK). Gently knead dough on a lightly floured surface until no dry spots remain, about 1 minute.
  4. Divide dough in half. Shape each piece into a circular disk.
  5. Grease an 8-inch pie plate.
  6. Roll out 1 disk of dough onto a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round (reserve the other round of dough for another use, you do not need it for this recipe).
  7. Carefully transfer the crust to the prepared pie plate. Lift up the edges and allow the dough to sink down into the dish. Trim edges to even out crust if needed, then prick the bottom of the dough with a fork a few times.
  8. Cover the pie plate and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to two days.

To make the pie:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To make the pumpkin pie filling:
    • Mix together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, brown sugar, egg, pumpkin pie spice, salt and vanilla in a mixing bowl until combined.
    • Pour the mixture into the bottom of your chilled pie crust.
  3. To make the pecan pie filling:
    • Cream together the sugar and butter until combined.
    • Add one egg at a time, scraping down the sides if needed until the eggs are fully incorporated.
    • Add the maple syrup, salt, vanilla and bourbon until combined.
    • Stir in half of the pecans.
  4. Carefully spoon the pecan pie over the pumpkin filling. Some of the two fillings will mix. This is OK, but try your best to be careful with the pecan filling so you get two layers of pie. Once you’ve added all of the pecan pie filling, sprinkle on the remaining pecans and chocolate chips (if using).
  5. Place the pie in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the center just has a little jiggle to it. If the top of the pie is burning before the center is done, cover with foil.
  6. Allow the pie to cool completely before serving.
  7. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Store in the fridge and bring to room temp before serving if desired.

Pumpkins seeds. Chocolate. Caramel. Sea salt. What more can be said to tempt you to try these easy-to-make chocolate covered roasted pumpkin seed turtle clusters? Photo by: Tieghan Gerard.

CHOCOLATE COVERED ROASTED PUMPKIN SEED TURTLE CLUSTERS

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Makes about 30 clusters

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 20 oz semi-sweet or milk chocolate chopped (may also use dark)
  • 24 caramels unwrapped (I used Werther’s Original)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream or canned coconut milk
  • 40 whole pecans, toasted
  • flaked sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Spread the raw pumpkin seeds on a greased baking sheet. Roast the pumpkin seeds for 10 minutes to dry them out. Remove from the oven.
  3. Toss the pumpkin seeds with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Return the seeds to the oven and continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the seeds are golden and toasted. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with wax paper.
  5. In a microwave-safe bowl, add 12 ounces of the chopped chocolate. Melt the chocolate in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. It took me about one minute and 30 seconds.
  6. Dollop about 1 tablespoon of melted chocolate in a small circle (about the size of an Oreo) onto the prepared wax paper lined baking sheet. Repeat until you have made 20 to 30 dollops of chocolate.
  7. Sprinkle the roasted pumpkin seeds on top of the chocolate, covering almost all of the chocolate. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. While the chocolate hardens, add the unwrapped caramels and the heavy cream or coconut milk to a microwave safe bowl. Melt the caramels the same way you melted the chocolate, in 30 seconds intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. It took me about one minute and 30 seconds.
  9. Remove the chocolate covered pumpkin seeds from the freezer and spoon a little of the caramel over top of each cluster. Be careful not to add too much caramel-aim for 1 to 2 teaspoons per cluster. Press two toasted pecans into the caramel.
  10. Melt the remaining 8 ounces of chocolate in the microwave and drizzle over each cluster.
  11. Sprinkle each cluster with the flaked sea salt and place the pan back in the freezer for 10 minutes (or in the fridge for 20 minutes).
  12. Serve cold or at room temperature. (If your house is warm, I recommend storing these in the fridge so the chocolate does not melt.)

*To make your own pumpkin puree, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut your own small- to medium-size sugar pumpkin in half or fourths and reserve the pumpkin seeds for later. Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and rub the pumpkin with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the pumpkin for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow everything to cool for five minutes. Add the pumpkin to a food processor (or mash extremely well) and puree with ½ cup of chicken broth. Puree until completely smooth.

This bonus content accompanies “More Than Just Jack-O’-Lanterns”—an article about how pumpkins and winter squash are a feast for the eyes and palate—in the Autumn 2017 issue of Garden Design magazine. Click here to purchase this issue.

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