Pumpkin Cookies, Two Ways

Where, oh where, did the summer go?  Fall is always so sneaky and manages to creep up and surprise you.  All of a sudden, you’re glad to be wearing your cozy winter jacket to bike to work in the 40-degree crispness of the morning, but on the bike ride home, you’re boiled alive in 60-degree weather because you don’t have anywhere to stash the bulky winter jacket!  Fall is beautiful, but the finicky temperatures are sometimes difficult to deal with. The food, however, makes it all worth it. This is the time when root vegetables and squash reign supreme, and cranberries make their annual appearance. The heat and humidity of the summer give way to a chilly tang in the air that makes your stomach rumble and start to pester you to fill it with warm comfort food. I take it as a personal challenge to wait as long as possible to turn on the heat, so baking is always a nice way to temporarily appease the stomach and warm up the kitchen.

Soft, chewy, pumpkin cookies have long been a favorite of mine, so when I see organic canned pumpkin appear on the shelves of Trader Joe’s, my stomach rumblings start in full force. Pumpkin cookies are incredibly versatile, and the pumpkiny wonderfulness keeps the cookies soft for days. And I’ll have to admit – canned pumpkin is the way to go. I usually attempt to make everything from scratch, but after a few times of peeling, chopping, cooking, and pureeing pumpkin, I made the ultimate decision to succumb to the wondrous ease of opening a can.

These cookies are adaptable, and with one basic recipe, you can use your creativity and the contents of your kitchen to make some seriously delicious snacks! The basic recipe appears below, along with two of my favorite variations.

Pumpkin Cookies
makes approx. 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 ⅓ cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 eggs
¼ cup maple syrup (can substitute honey)
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
⅓ cup brown sugar

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil two baking sheets.
2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg) in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, maple, oil, vanilla, and brown sugar.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from baking sheets and let cool on wire racks.

Pumpkin Cranberry Ginger

In addition to the ingredients for the basic recipe above, add 1 tsp. ground ginger to the dry ingredients. After the wet ingredients have been combined with the dry, add 1 cup chopped cranberries (frozen or fresh), 2 Tbsp. chopped crystallized ginger, and ⅓ cup chopped almonds.
Note: When chopping cranberries, I’ve found that they tend to roll all over the place and it’s difficult to keep them in place on the chopping board! So, I’ve recently discovered that placing a smaller cutting board on a baking sheet prevents the cranberries from rolling onto the floor, and they’ll just roll right onto the baking sheet instead.

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Cookies

In addition to the ingredients for the basic recipe above, add ¼ cup chopped almonds, 1 cup chocolate chips, ¼ cup sunflower seeds, and ½ cup raisins after wet and dry ingredients have been combined.

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