I’m so old, I remember pumpkins before they were a fashion.
Pumpkin pie came from a cafeteria buffet line, maybe with a dollop of whipped cream on top. There was no “pumpkin spice,” definitely not a latte.
Today, the pumpkin is so pervasive that one Fort Worth bakery, the Swiss Pastry Shop, serves it five different ways: cake, pie, cheesecake, bread and cannoli.
Bakery owner Hans Peter Muller says it all started with the Peanuts comic strip and the 1966 cartoon special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
“Pumpkin just taps into people’s sense of nostalgia, comfort and warmth,” he wrote in a message.
In the 1950s, the old local Boswell’s Dairies sold pumpkin spice ice cream in the 1950s. But there are few other references in Star-Telegram archives before the cartoon special.
If Peanuts started pumpkinmania, Starbucks Coffee gave it spice. “PSL” — pumpkin spice lattes — began in 2004.
Pumpkin season now starts on Labor Day, but it ends abruptly on New Year’s Day.
After New Year’s, Muller wrote, “I can’t give a pumpkin product away, but I can sell 500 pies the day before Thanksgiving.”
Swiss Pastry’s pumpkin panorama includes pies ($15), cheesecakes ($20, minis $2.95), latte cakes ($25), bread ($5 loaf) and cannolis ($1.50 each).
There’s also a $17 pecan pie, one of the city’s best.
Japanese pumpkin, but American style
The most distinctive pumpkin dessert in town technically isn’t made from pumpkin.
Cannon Chinese Kitchen and Shinjuku Station serve a cheesecake made from kabocha, a similar but smaller squash known as “Japanese pumpkin.”
Let’s face it: Nobody would buy it if you called it squash cheesecake.
But topped with a rich caramel sauce and walnuts, it’s an elegant fall dessert.
Don’t get confused: This is kabocha, not kombucha.
A whole cheesecake sells for $30 (two days notice required).
Pumpkin tarts at Black Rooster, & more
The Black Rooster Cafe & Bakery locations also offer an upgrade from pumpkin pie: a pumpkin tart ($25) on Black Rooster’s artisan crust.
The Black Rooster’s flagship is open at breakfast and lunch daily at 2430 Forest Park Blvd. Other locations are at 6333 Camp Bowie Blvd. (next to affiliated The Lunch Box) or 910 Houston St.; roosterbakery.com.
▪ The Tennessee-based Buttermilk Sky Pie Shops, with locations in Colleyville and Mansfield, sell a cinnamon-clove spiced pumpkin pie ($23) topped with brown sugar; 4712 Colleyville Blvd. (Texas 26), Colleyville, or 3150 E. Broad St., Mansfield, buttermilkskypie.com.
▪ California-based SusieCakes in Fort Worth has a party-ready selection: pumpkin-cream-cheese cake with chocolate ganache, pumpkin-maple buttercream cupcakes, pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin bread pudding and pumpkin cheesecakes on a graham-cracker crust; 1621 River Run, Fort Worth, susiecakes.com.