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Pumpkin may be the face of October around here, but this spread is really more of an ode to the date, possibly the most decadent whole food there is. To celebrate that sticky little fruit, you'll add a dose of wildly convenient canned pumpkin puree to smooth out and lighten up what would otherwise be a decidedly thick paste. Otherwise, there are only gentle enhancements from a little brandy and vanilla, plus a subtle undertone of warmth from black pepper and cinnamon.

The result tastes a whole lot like dates and pumpkin in spreadable form and is a handy jar to have around for all those muffins that keep coming out of your oven this time of year.

Dead Simple Date-Pumpkin Butter

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yields about 1 1/4 cups

15 dates, pitted

1/4 cup unfiltered apple juice (look for a brand that contains nothing but apples)

1 TBSP brandy

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (look for a brand that contains nothing but pumpkin)

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/16 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Add dates, apple juice, and brandy to a small pot. Bring to a boil, covered, reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a strong simmer, and cook five minutes.

Meanwhile, add pumpkin, vanilla, cinnamon, and pepper to a food processor. When the dates are ready, carefully add the contents of the pot to the processor. Process until smooth.

The spread can be used immediately, but it's best to chill it several hours before using to let the flavors mingle.