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5 Great Pumpkin Sweets To Try In Chicago This Fall

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 28, 2016 4:23PM

Pumpkin basque cake at The Bristol. Photo by Amber Gibson.

By Amber Gibson

Because we cannot survive on pumpkin spice lattes alone, here are five other sweet ways to enjoy pumpkin this autumn. Whether you're looking for a fancy tasting menu or a brownie to go with your morning latte, there's a great way to enjoy pumpkin this season.

Basque Cake with Pumpkin Marmalade at The Bristol

If you've been to The Bristol, you've probably had the Basque cake, which has been on the menu for years. Executive Chef Chris Pandel switches up the accompaniments this signature dessert to showcase brighter flavors in the summer and warmer ones come fall and winter. This year he’s marinating diced pumpkin in maple sugar and lemon zest overnight before cooking it down to marmalade. Candied sage spiced pumpkin seeds add crunch in contrast with a fluffy quenelle of maple whipped cream. “If you can find them, the best pumpkin for marmalade that I have found is called a Long Island Cheese Squash,” Pandel says. “Odd name, but great pumpkin."
$12, 2152 N. Damen Ave., Bucktown

Pumpkin rock at Steadfast. Photo by Amber Gibson.

Pumpkin Rock at Steadfast

This dessert is like the edible version of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” for autumn. “Usually pumpkin is in a bread, pie or latte, which isn't that fun,” says Executive Pastry Chef Chris Teixeira. “I wanted to showcase the versatility of pumpkin in a dish that’s meant to resemble natural earth.”

In this pumpkin world, pumpkin seed sponge cake looks like moss, and a mound of pumpkin mousse is dusted in cocoa powder so that it resembles a rock. Decorating the “forest floor” are dollops of pumpkin butter, cubes of candied pumpkin, pumpkin seed brittle and a crisp pumpkin chip, with a scoop of cinnamon ice milk bringing the textures and flavors together.
$12, 120 W. Monroe St., Loop

Cocoa & Co Pumpkin Hot Cocoa. Photo by Amber Gibson.

Pumpkin Hot Cocoa at Cocoa + Co

There’s no cocoa powder or sugary syrups involved in the hot chocolate at this cacao emporium. Owner Kim Hack chops up and melts down real chocolate for a sumptuous European-style drinking cocoa. For fall, she blends organic, local pumpkin purée with 64 percent single-origin Ecuadorian cacao.

“I refused to do pumpkin last year,” Hack says. “But I decided to embrace it this year.” The 8 oz. version of the pumpkin hot cocoa is even served in an adorable pumpkin mug and there is also a pumpkin spice latte on the menu to give Starbucks a run for its money.
$4.25 (8 oz) and $5.50 (12 oz), 1651 N. Wells St., Old Town

Pumpkin, Cacao and Cassis at Sixteen

This unique take on pumpkin, part of the tasting menu at Sixteen, comes in a couple of parts. First, you’re served a small cup of tea made from roasted cacao nibs and bitter orange, a mellow earthy brew with a subtle apple cider aroma to warm you up. Next comes the main event, unctuous dark chocolate mousse and cake cubes, cassis sorbet and a pumpkin purée that’s nicely spiced and caramelized but not too sweet.

Executive Pastry Chef Evan Sheridan uses 75 percent Ecuadorian dark chocolate from North Carolina’s Videri. “The inspiration is driven by the duality of chocolate’s flavors paired with fall-inspired ingredients and flavors,” he says. Sheridan is a black tea lover, especially lapsang souchong, and finds it a nice palate cleanser before dessert.
Part of the $175 four-course prix-fixe or $245 dinner tasting menu, 401 N. Wabash Ave., River North

Pumpkin Cayenne Cheesecake Brownie at Delightful Pastries

Owner and Pastry Chef Dobra Bielinski loves pumpkin and chocolate together and makes an indulgent cream cheese brownie year-round at Delightful Pastries. So it was only natural to mash-up all of her favorite things for fall. “The cayenne pepper adds just the right kick for a nice, bright flavor,” Bielinski says. Eggs, sugar, flour and pumpkin purée are all sourced regionally and the cayenne pepper is from Spice House. The only ingredient that isn’t from the Midwest is the chocolate - which is Barry Callebaut from Belgium.
$3.50, 5927 W. Lawrence Ave., Jefferson Park