Saturday, January 07, 2006

Cute as a Pumpkin

Two sturdy little pie pumpkins, among the last holdouts from the farmers' market, have sat patiently on the kitchen table for a few months, waiting for me to decide how to cook them.

And I've had plenty of ideas, really I have! But it seems like every time I've been ready to reach for one of those brilliant orange globes, something else comes up and I'm off to cook something else.

Back in October, Dear Reader Tina sent me her friend Melanie's recipe for pumpkin drop cookies, and though I've been meaning to try it ever since (I've had the cream cheese in the fridge for two months!), I only pulled it out tonight, ready at last to bake something sweet again.

I halved and seeded the pumpkin and baked it along with the sweet potatoes destined to top the pot pie I was making for dinner. And after I finished dinner, I pulled out the rest of the cookie ingredients and went to work.

Like a number of other cooks I've met or read, I have great difficulty in sticking absolutely to a recipe even the first time through. Sometimes it's because I don't have all the same ingredients, and sometimes I just want a different combination of flavors. And though I don't mess with the "absolutes" in a baking recipe (such as baking powder or soda), I'll often tweak the other ingredients to my liking.

Thus I'm sure it will come as no surprise when I tell you that:

--I switched the sugar to maple sugar and Sucanat
--I switched the flour to half unbleached and half whole wheat pastry flour (my usual baking ratio)
--I increased the amount of a few spices
--I declined to add raisins in favor of using the last of my grain-sweetened chocolate chips (what can I say? I like chocolate!)
--I reduced the amount of sugar in the frosting and used maple sugar and cane juice crystals instead of confectioner's sugar

The resulting cookies were rather homely but endearing little amber lumps studded with chocolate, and they had a soft, moist, tender texture and a good balance of flavors. The cream cheese frosting, though a little soft, had just the right sweetness with that depth of caramel flavor from the maple sugar. And believe me when I tell you that the only reason I actually frosted the cookies instead of just dipping them into the frosting and then directly into my mouth was that the cookies were too soft to hold up as effective scoops. (Yes, I did try, and it was an exquisitely delectable mess.)

After rigorous and extensive quality control checking (six cookies!), I am pleased to tell you that not only does this recipe have my seal of approval and thus merits being shared with you all, but that these cookies also make a pretty good breakfast.

They're so cute! How could I resist?

Pumpkin Drop Cookies

Shared by Tina, who got the recipe from her friend Melanie, who got it...??? I've made a number of changes in the original recipe, because I find I don't like cookies overly sweet. You can easily make this with canned pumpkin, but I find the flavor of browned baked fresh pumpkin to be a real treat. Serve with tea or milk... if you can resist just shoveling them into your mouth!

1 small pie pumpkin OR 1 c canned pumpkin
1/2 c maple sugar
1/2 c Sucanat
1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 T freshly grated orange peel
1 c unbleached flour
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 c raisins, chopped nuts, or chocolate chips

If using fresh pumpkin, halve and seed the pumpkin. Lay cut side up on baking sheet and bake for one hour (or until fork-tender) at 400 F. Allow to cool, then peel off the skin. Mash thoroughly.

Cream together pumpkin, sugars, butter, and orange peel until smooth. Sift in flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and mix until well blended. Add raisins (or nuts, or chocolate chips) and combine evenly.

Drop small teaspoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheets. Bake at 375 F for 8-10 minutes, until set. Allow to cool on pan for a couple of minutes, then remove to cooling rack. Cool completely. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

3 to 4 oz soft cream cheese
1/3 c unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c cane juice crystals
1/4 c maple sugar
1 T milk or soy milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cream all ingredients together until smooth. Use a knife to frost cookies. Allow frosting to set (it may be a little soft).

Makes 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies


At 1/09/2006 5:18 PM, Blogger Tina said...

Glad you liked the recipe!:-)

At 1/10/2006 8:11 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Oh yes! And I haven't shared any of them yet... since my usual crowd of cookie-beggars isn't around this week. :)


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