Re-entering life after 12 days in Italy has been a bit difficult. Ok... it's been a lot difficult. Having been ultimately spoiled in Rome and then on our cruise I'm having great difficulty finding motivation to get back into the kitchen let alone gear up for the holidays that are racing towards us.
With the realization that Thanksgiving is indeed next week, not next month, a bag of white chocolate chips was just the encouragement I needed to get back into the kitchen. Definitely Thanksgiving themed, the warm flavors of fall are all wrapped up in the hard white chocolate shell, making stopping at just two (or three...) not an easy feat.
Discovering these little gems last year at Healthy Food for Living, I have now proclaimed then Thanksgiving Tradition. Filled with pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, crushed graham crackers (you can make your own here) and a dose of cream cheese for good measure, the cups are sweet yet ever so slightly spicy and with a touch of creaminess from the cream cheese and white chocolate.
A bit of a project to create, but totally worth the time, the cups are decorated simply with a sprinkle of jimmies. Since I've discovered the art of chocolate cup making I am now the proud owner of several silicone molds, square and round. I've found the white chocolate preferable to work with when painting the molds with the melted chocolates where a quick stint in the freezer has them set in about 15 minutes and then carefully popped out of the mold.
Once the molds are completed the filling is spooned inside, smoothed, then topped with more white chocolate and then the jimmies for decoration.
I'm not sure if it is the combination of the pumpkin and spices with the white chocolate that makes these cups so good, but whatever it is, they are positively irresistible.
White Chocolate Pumpkin Cups
adapted from Healthy Food for Living
12 oz. good quality white chocolate (I used Guittard chips... they melted like a dream!)
1 Tbs non-trans fat shortening (I used Earth Balance Shortening)
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese (I used Trader Joe's whipped)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs (7 sheets)
Seasonal sprinkles or edible decorations
12 silicone or foil lined mini muffin cups or other small silicone cups (I found a silicone tray with 18 small squares for candy making, a bit smaller than the mini muffin cups, but darn cute).
Melt white chocolate and shortening in the top of a double boiler over medium heat on the stove, stirring constantly until completely melted. Remove from heat.
Using a small spoon, place about 3/4 of a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of the melted chocolate in a reusable silicone mini cup or into a foil lined mini muffin cup, tilt the cups to swirl the chocolate to cover as much as possible. If necessary, use a paint brush to paint up the sides of the cups with additional chocolate. The chocolate should be thick enough that you can not see through it and not so thin that it will break when you pop the shell out of the mold. You should have left over chocolate when all the cups are done.
Place the cups onto a tray and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes, or until completely hardened. Remove from freezer and peel the silicone or papers off of the hardened shells. (This step may be completed days before filling)
In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, pumpkin, spices and the vanilla, whisk or beat until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until combined. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs.
Using a small spoon, gently divide the mixture among the chocolate cups filling to just below the ridge, smoothing the tops to create an even surface.
Re-heat the remaining melted white chocolate if necessary. Spoon a small amount of melted chocolate over the smoothed filling surfaces, making sure the chocolate reaches all the way to the edges to seal the cups. Sprinkle with decorative seasonal sprinkles or edible decorations.
Chill, to harden the tops. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.
Betcha can't stop at just one!!