Friday, November 18, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cookies and Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake

Although fall is quickly making way for winter, the leaves have mostly fallen, and the air is getting colder every day, there's still plenty of room in my heart for fall pumpkin recipes.  It actually got into the 60s today, a warm and windy day that brought plenty of tumbleweed from the plains.  I want rain tonight - I keep imagining that I hear thunder outside.

In October, everyone went a little pumpkin crazy, including me, and so many tempting pumpkin recipes were tested, tasted and shared.  I shared plenty of my own - pumpkin streusel muffins drizzled with warm honey, pumpkin chocolate chip bread topped with fresh apple butter from a local farm, pumpkin pecan oatmeal, pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, pumpkin cake truffles with sea salt, whole wheat pumpkin pancakes with honey and caramel cream, and pumpkin snickerdoodle whoopie pies, which ended up becoming the most viewed recipe on my blog.

And yet, I still haven't had enough of pumpkin.  I hope you haven't either, because I have two more yummy recipes to share with you!  These pumpkin spice cookies are the original version of the cookie I adapted for my pumpkin snickerdoodles.

Until now, I've always made them with semi-sweet chocolate chips, but for a change this time, I used a combination of white chocolate and butterscotch chips, with a drizzle of white chocolate on top for a festive look.  They disappeared quickly last weekend at the UFC fight night at our place, along with the chocolate chip shortbread cookies.  I couldn't decide which I liked best, so I had to keep sampling each.

They're soft, sweet and cakey, just as pumpkin cookies are supposed to be, with the chocolate chips giving just the right amount of chewiness to them.  Once I made these and sandwiched them with a layer of cream cheese frosting between two cookies, which was also amazing.  They tend to spread out a little more when baked on a Silpat, so if you want them to bake higher and rounder, then just bake them on a greased baking sheet.

And this pumpkin streusel coffee cake has been one of my favorite recipes of my mom's over the years.  It's quick and easy to make, since the cake recipe uses a spice cake mix as a base, with pumpkin, buttermilk and spices beaten in to create a light and fluffy batter that's delightfully soft and crumbly when baked.  I use cake mixes few and far between, but in this case, I think it's entirely appropriate.  And the crumbly streusel topping is my favorite part - but then, streusel topping always makes everything better.

You can serve this cake warm, or at room temperature, and although it's delicious on its own, it's even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some fresh whipped cream topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon.  It's also a wonderful recipe to take to a potluck or a party - that is, if you can part with it after tasting a piece.  I took a pan of this to work today for our Thanksgiving potluck and people told me it was the best coffee cake they'd ever tasted!

I admit, it doesn't look like much.  There's nothing fancy or pretentious about it, no towering layers filled with butter cream, or artfully arranged dollops of whipped cream (although if I had any whipping cream in the fridge when we tasted a piece, I would have garnished it with a little), and my photos are less than awe-inspiring.  So you'll just have to take my word that it's delicious, moist and full of pumpkin spices, with that yummy crunchy topping that makes it just perfect.

Now if the rain would just come...

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
printable recipe

·         1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
·         1 cup granulated sugar
·         1 egg
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         1 cup canned pumpkin puree
·         2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon baking powder
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon
·         1 – 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips or butterscotch chips (or a combination of these – although I usually bake these with just chocolate chips, this time I used 1 cup white chocolate and ½ cup butterscotch)
·         ¼ cup white chocolate chips, melted (for drizzling)
·         Pumpkin pie spice (to sprinkle on top of cookies)

Preheat the oven to 350.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.  Add the pumpkin and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  Reduce mixer speed to low, and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop rounded spoonfuls of dough onto a Silpat baking mat (cookies spread a little flatter when baked on Silpats) or parchment paper, 2 inches apart.  Bake for 11-12 minutes, when edges turn golden and centers are set.

Cool cookies for one minute on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cookies are cooled, melt the ¼ cup white chocolate in a small bowl, and drizzle over the cookies.  Sprinkle cookies with the pumpkin pie spice.

Yields 3 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin Streusel Coffee Cake
printable recipe

Streusel Topping:
·         1 cup brown sugar
·         1 cup pecans
·         1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
·         ½ cup all-purpose flour
·         ¾ teaspoon baking powder
·         1/8 teaspoon salt
·         4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

(Note: ½ cup self-rising flour can be substituted for the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt.)

·         1 spice cake mix
·         1/3 cup buttermilk
·         3 eggs, room temperature
·         1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
·         1 teaspoon baking soda
·         2 teaspoons vanilla
·         2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick spray.

With a food processor, pulse all the topping ingredients until moist and crumbly.  Set aside.

Place all cake ingredients in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer.  Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine, then beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Spread half the cake batter in the pan; sprinkle with half the streusel topping.  Spread the rest of the cake batter on top of the topping, and sprinkle with the remainder of the topping.  (Note: the easiest way to spread the batter on top of the first layer of topping is to place dollops of batter all over the topping, then pull them together with a spatula to spread evenly.)

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for a about an hour and serve warm, or at room temperature.

Serve each piece with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  A little warm caramel wouldn’t hurt either!