Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Pumpkin Bread

It’s the first day of fall, and I love that it happened on a Saturday this year.  I drank my first caramel apple cider of the season the other day, and it tasted of all things fall.  We have cider leftover from cooking roast pork tenderloin with cinnamon apples and sweet potatoes spiced with cardamom for dinner last night, and I might simmer some of it on the stove with a cinnamon stick so the house smells amazing today.

I have orange marmalade muffins baking in the oven for breakfast, a partially-read book (Gone Girl) and three unread magazines on the coffee table (Better Homes and Gardens, Food and Wine and Martha Stewart), endless cups of hot coffee to be sipped and a whole weekend ahead with no obligations, which doesn’t happen very often.  Next weekend is going to be busy with cake orders, so I’m going to enjoy the quiet time today.

This fall is the third I’ve spent with Jamie, the second year of my blog, and the first for my new business.  Life is good and there’s so much to be happy about.

The leaves are starting to change color.  The season is short in Colorado, just two to three weeks, before all the leaves have fallen and the trees are bare.  We don’t get a lot of variety of color – orange and red aren’t as common – but lots of brilliant yellow, especially where the Aspen trees thrive.

A drive through the mountains would be so beautiful today.

While shopping for the week’s groceries last Monday, I saw a bin full of colorful mini pumpkins and gourds.  “Is it too early to decorate with these?” I asked Jamie, hopeful he might say, “Of course not!”  But it is, I know it is.  I get excited, just like a kid who makes their Christmas list in May, and then asks every day for the next seven months, when is Santa going to come?.

Pumpkin is always in high demand this month, so I make sure to have a couple cans stocked from last year, for instant pumpkin baking gratification when the urge strikes.  I shared a lot of pumpkin recipes last year, but there’s one that’s always worth repeating  – pumpkin bread.

My mom has always made the best pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, and it’s a recipe I’ve used over and over, with very little variation.  This week, I baked two loaves of pumpkin bread, but since I also wanted to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, I left the chocolate chips out of the bread this time, adding in some toasted pecans instead, and a little cream cheese icing on top.  The bread doesn’t really need cream cheese on top, especially if you make it with chocolate chips, but then again, no one really eats cream cheese out of necessity.  It’s just a fantastic ingredient.

The bread stayed moist and fresh all week, and the tangy cream cheese on top was the perfect complement to the fall spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

I couldn’t find my go-to pumpkin cookie recipe, so I simply used my standard chocolate chipcookie recipe, added a can of pumpkin, increased the flour and added spices, of course, and I think I like these even better than what I’ve made before.  They’re very soft and cakey, and the bittersweet chocolate chips I used were a nice contrast to the sweet cakey cookie.  There was enough of a difference between the two recipes that they didn’t seem repetitive of each other, and they disappeared quickly at work.

I hope you all have a lovely fall weekend!

For some other recipes to indulge your pumpkin cravings this season, here are a few I posted last fall:

And please visit the new page on here for “Bakery Orders”.  The page is a work in process, but provides some information on my new baking business!

Pumpkin Bread
printable recipe
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray two 9x5 loaf pans with non-stick spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin, sugar, oil, milk, eggs and vanilla until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  Add by spoonfuls to the mixing bowl, mixing on low to combine, then on medium speed for 1 minute.  Stir in the chocolate chips and/or pecans, if using them.

Divide the batter between the two pans.  Bake on the middle rack in the oven for 55-65 minutes, until the top is cracked and golden brown, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.  Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.

For the cream cheese icing (which I never use if I add chocolate chips, but this time I only added pecans to the batter), mix the following ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth, and spread over the top of the bread before slicing.  This makes a generous amount of icing, and can easily be halved and still yield enough for two loaves.

Cream Cheese Icing
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon clear butter-flavored extract
  • 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

Yields 2 loaves

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
printable recipe
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) chocolate chips

In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.  Beat in the eggs, vanilla and pumpkin - mixture may appear curdled.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  With the mixer on low, add by spoonfuls, stirring just until moistened.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Mixture will be thick and sticky - if it's a little too thick, mix in a few tablespoons milk.  Cover the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Drop the dough by spoonfuls, 2 inches apart, on a greased baking sheet (I don't bake these on a silpat, since they tend to spread out too much).  For large cookies like mine, bake for 9-10 minutes, until they just begin to turn golden.  For small to medium cookies, bake for 7-8 minutes.

Cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool before storing in an airtight container.  I like to store mine in tupperware while they're still warm - the steam helps to make them incredibly moist.  Another trick, if you find that your cookies tend to get dry and hard the next day (which I've never had happen with these) is to place a few slices of apple in the container - the cookies absorb the moisture from the apple and stay soft.  These are even better the second day!

Yields 4 dozen large cookies / 5-6 dozen small-medium cookies

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen