The TSA's totalitarian airport security rules don't work for me. I'm sure The Powers That Be are well aware of the inconvenience they cause to travelers, but do you think they know they are preventing beloved family traditions and holiday happiness as well? Doubtful.
You see, I am the only person in my family who is both willing and able to make a pumpkin pie, and I have to bake it the day before Thanksgiving because I'm also in charge of making everything else for the Thanksgiving meal. This was fine until I moved 2,500 miles away. For a variety of reasons -- mom and dad don't own a food processor, my plane doesn't even land in St. Louis until 10:30 p.m., etc. -- I cannot make the pie this year. It is endlessly irritating to me to know that these reasons could be overcome if I could just fly with the pie. It doesn't matter that I'm willing to shepherd it through airport security and cradle it for 3.5 mind-numbing hours in the air. Apparently the TSA is so concerned about pie-wielding terrorists that I can't bring my loosely-defined-as-gelatinous baked good along at all. Fine. So it's the TSA's fault that we will NOT have pie this year. Hrumph.
Well the TSA will win this battle, but I will win the war. We will still have a delicious, harvest-themed, non-cake dessert, and it may even include this pumpkin butter somehow. Some of the recipes I will post here require some patience or have a moderate degree of difficulty, but this is not one of them. You can throw it together in well under an hour, it fills the kitchen with a heavenly autumnal scent, it tastes great, and it keeps for days. Is there a reason you aren't standing at your stove yet?
A recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen
Yields about 3 1/2 cups
1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree, approx. 3½ cups
¾ cup apple juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/3 cups brown sugar*
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Juice of half a lemon (optional)
Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to taste. Stir in lemon juice if using. Serve pumpkin butter with muffins, ladle it over cheesecake, mix it with yogurt (as I did, above), or whatever your heart desires.
Once cool, pumpkin butter can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge. I'm not sure how long since I already gave half of mine away and I'll eat the rest within a few days. Please note that pumpkin is not considered safe for home canning.
* I used Splenda Blend brown sugar to save a few calories since it doesn't affect the consistency of the butter (like it would a cake or other baked good where rising is necessary).