This time of year, it’s common for people to complain about pumpkin pie flavor ending up in everything, even coffee — especially coffee. They also complain that there’s no actual pumpkin flavor in these products, though they may be colored orange; all you can taste is the spice mix.
Well, the spice mix is just about all you can taste in pumpkin pie, too, besides the sugar. The eggs and milk are mostly for texture and pumpkin, like all winter squash, is pretty bland tasting. A few years ago I discovered that butterscotch pudding with pumpkin pie spice was pretty close the real thing. We had it for dessert once or twice, though I never tried to pass it off as made with real pumpkin.
I thought this was pretty ingenious of me till I read that JELL-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding was a thing. Never having seen it in the stores, I suspected that it wasn’t on offer up here north of the Line, where a mere 35 million of us live — apparently not a large enough market to bother with. That turned out to be correct. Someone asked about it on FaceBook and got this reply: “Unfortunately, JELL-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding is not available in Canada. We will pass along your interest to our business team.” If the team decides to launch it here, I hope they remember our Thanksgiving is in October.
With pumpkin pie spice getting all this attention, what exactly is in it? No secret ingredients, it’s all stuff you may well already have. Deconstructing the recipe from The Joy of Cooking gives us a ratio of one part cloves, two parts nutmeg (or allspice), four parts ginger, and eight parts cinnamon. I’ve left out the nutmeg and nobody missed it, though of course it makes the taste even better.
All that said — our ingredient of the week is pumpkin, so there is pumpkin in this filling. You can cook your own or use canned; just be sure the can says “pure pumpkin.” And you can be the judge of whether or not you can taste the pumpkin in this.
- ¾ cup cooked pumpkin purée
- 1 (four serving) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Plain cookies or graham crackers
- In a blender or food processor, blend the pumpkin thoroughly with the pudding mix and spice.
- Spread thinly between pairs of cookies.
- Serve immediately to keep cookies crisp.