Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sweet Pumpkin Cookies

One of the first things I do when I get a new cookbook these days is turn to the index to see if there are any pumpkin recipes. Luckily for me, my newest acquisition, Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, had a pumpkin cookie recipe that was just begging to be tried. These most definitely do not disappoint, though I'm pretty easy to please as I do love most pumpkin-based baked goods that come my way. To these cookies credit, my husband wandered into the kitchen, lured in by the wonderful smells wafting from the oven. When, after sneaking off with a couple freshly-baked cookies, I asked him what he thought, he said he really liked them and would like another one, the best complement of all.

I opted for a combination of raisins and pecans, though there are many wonderful dried fruit and nut combinations that would work well in this cookie, like cranberries and walnuts. The original recipe uses peanuts, but I prefer almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, or most other nuts to peanuts, particularly in baking applications. It's not that I don't like peanuts, but I just wouldn't pick them when presented with other options. These cookies are light and cakey with a tender crumb, and the perfect combination of indulgence and healthy ingredients.

Sweet Pumpkin Cookies
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans
1 cup raisins, golden raisins, currants, or sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (optional; I like Ghiradelli 60% Cacao baking chips)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla and mix until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt, and add to the mixing bowl. Stir well to form a soft batter. Stir in the chopped nuts, raisins, and, if you like, the chocolate chips.

3. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a large, unoiled baking sheet (or two smaller ones), allowing a little space for the cookies to spread as they bake. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cookies just begin to brown slightly on the bottom. Use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack or plate. Store in your favorite cookie jar.

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