Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies

Did you skip over this post?  This is probably the boringest blog post title ever, especially in October.  Pumpkin everything... ho hum... what a great problem to have.

I'd totally forgotten I blogged about another pumpkin cookie last spring, but looking back at that post, I totally set myself up for this:
"The problem with pumpkin cookies seems to be their tendency to edge towards the pumpkin muffin or pumpkin bread.  What if you actually want a cookie? . . . . here, again, I ended up with tasty little bites of pumpkin bread."

Well, um... ta da!  Leave it to the PPK people to solve the mystery by cooking down canned pumpkin to reduce its moisture content.  Do note: 45 minutes is a really long time to wait for your pumpkin to become cookie-worthy.  Plan ahead accordingly.  This recipe was interesting for a few other reasons: it called for "shortening" rather than vegan butter or margarine, so I took this literally and used Earth Balance's shortening sticks, which I think resulted in a more tender texture (but crispy on the outside!).  Finally, the way that this recipe accounts for egg is really interesting.  I think that the pumpkin actually does some of the work, in the same way that people bake (sad) low fat muffins with applesauce instead of eggs and oil.  But the recipe also calls for cornstarch and a little bit of oat flour, both of which I think contributed to the really great texture.

I made a few minor changes: I liked the green-on-orange contrast of the pumpkin seeds, but didn't have any, so I used pistachios instead (still going through the metric ton of nuts leftover from the salad bar party--a pine nut recipe is also on its way).  I swapped out some white flour in favor of whole wheat flour; honestly, this is more of a texture preference than any kind of lip service to "healthiness" (see, for example, the 1/2 c of shortening).  And then, because I got excited about the spiciness of the cookies, I added some ground black pepper just for fun.  Finally, I did use the 2-bowl method; even though the recipe has you combine the wet ingredients and then just sift the dry into that bowl, when I do this I always end up with weird little zones or pockets of flavor--oh, hello, salt; oh hello, black pepper.  Rinsing out the dry bowl is almost no extra work, anyway.

I think the ruling was pretty unanimous: these cookies were really, really good, eliciting comments such as, "yum what the fuck."  :)  :)  :)

Sell Your Soul Pumpkin Cookies

1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 c white flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c oat flour (made by grinding oatmeal in a clean spice/coffee grinder)
2 TB cornstach
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
pistachios or pumpkin seeds (optional)

1. Reduce the pumpkin by cooking in a saucepan over very low heat for 45 minutes or more.  The pumpkin should steam but not bubble; stir often.  Cook until the pumpkin is only 1/2 c (this takes a long time).  Then, set aside and let cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350*.  Line two (or three) baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars, then mix in cooled pumpkin and vanilla.
4. In a second bowl, combine remaining ingredients (excepting nuts or seeds).  Then add dry to wet, and mix to combine.  Form dough into little balls with your hands, then smush lightly as you put them on the baking sheets.  Top with pistachios or pumpkin seeds as desired.
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly brown.  Allow to cool a few minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a cooling rack.  Makes 2 dozen or more.

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