I love a challenge. Especially if it involves baking something delicious and then eating it. When I (and a lot of others I presume) think of fall seasonal flavours, probably one of the most popular choices would be pumpkin. So many possibilities with this humble gourd. It can be sweet, it can be savoury, you can eat the seeds, or you can carve it up and cram a candle inside it. Such fun to work with, and easier than 1,2,3 if you use the canned stuff.
My family never made pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, or pecan pie for that matter. I was totally deprived of this spicy fall treat until well into adulthood. Once I did try it though, I was hooked. There’s just something about pumpkin, once it’s been mixed with other enhancing flavours, that conjures up all the best memories of autumn. Crisp, colourful leaves, the whiff of wood smoke on the cool breeze, the return of my favourite long coats.
And so it was that I came to the dilemma of the pumpkin cookie. Sure, I’ve seen it many times. It’s all over the place this time of year, although you will find some people calling it a “muffin top” these days. Which is really more accurate anyway when it comes to the standard pumpkin cookie recipe. Fluffy, cakey and not at all the texture one thinks of when dreaming of cookies. When I think of a cookie, it should crispy around the edges, slightly undercooked in the centre, and chewy throughout. The perfect cookie texture, if you will. Apparently this is rather hard to achieve when it ocmes to a pumpkin cookie because of the added liquid involved in the pumpkin itself. It is quite watery when you add it to the batter.
I thought that there must be a way to solve this dilemma. Too much liquid…well, why not just get rid of that excess liquid then? You will still retain the orange hue and fall flavour of pumpkin, but at the same time, achieve a much better texture or crumb.
And so I set to work experimenting one afternoon. And this, my friends, is my gift to you. A perfectly crisp and chewy pumpkin cookie, accented by the wonderful spices we all know and love and a little surprise for extra zing. Enjoy!
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies
1 cup butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup pumpkin butter**
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks
fine grain sea salt, such as pink Himalayan (optional)
1. Cream butter and sugar in medium sized bowl.
2. Add egg, vanilla and pumpkin butter. Mix well.
3. In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add to wet and stir to combine.
4. Stir in orange zest and chocolate chips and set in refrigerator for 1 hour.
5. These cookies don’t spread much so be creative in making shapes. I went for a rough look by pulling out chunks of dough and loosely molding into cookie shapes. Sprinkle with sea salt before baking if desired.
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes in a 350°F oven.
Because these cookies are crisp and chewy fresh out of the oven, I recommend making them in smaller batches and freezing the dough for future use.
** To make the pumpkin butter:
Method #1. Dump one can of pure pumpkin purée (27-29 0z can) and one cup of brown sugar into a small saucepan. Heat on medium and continue to stir and reduce for 1 hour. When done, you should be left with about a cup + 2 Tbsp of very thick pumpkin butter.
Method #2. Halve three small sugar pumpkins, scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut side up on a greased baking tray, bake in a 375°F oven for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, scoop out flesh and purée in food processor (there should be about 2 cups). Drain in cheese cloth by squeezing out the excess liquid. Add to small saucepan along with 1 cup of brown sugar. Cook down on medium heat for about one hour until very thick. Remove and set aside.
Remember, they don’t stay crispy and chewy forever. These guys are best served right away, or at least within 2 days. After that they begin to soften. They still taste great, but I chose to freeze two thirds of my dough in two small batches for later indulgence.