It’s the Great Pumpkin Bake-Fest, Charlie Brown!

Three years ago one of my very best friends, Rachel, called me up and said “Hey, I need to bring something to Thanksgiving. I don’t know what, but I have a few recipes I would like to try out… can I come over so we can bake pumpkin goodies and taste test?” Um, yes please! So she came over to my slightly-larger-than-her’s kitchen, and we baked, and baked, and baked.  We made mini crust-less pumpkin pies, something with pumpkin ice cream and self rising flour, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, and I think pumpkin muffins.  It was a great success, as she decided on something to take and my newlywed husband came home to a kitchen full of pumpkin pastries.

Last year, I was in a slightly-larger-than-my-previous-kitchen kitchen, and Rachel and I decided that we would make this pumpkin baking an annual thing.  She brought over pumpkin and fall-inspired ales to taste test and we made some of the same recipes from the year before and I think I made pumpkin cupcakes with a cinnamon buttercream frosting.

Fast-forward to 2014.  It finally has started to feel a little more like autumn and a little less like summer in Texas and Rachel and I haven’t seen each other in months (she is a full time grad student with a job and boyfriend, I have a full time job, husband, and the blog).  It seemed natural that we needed to get together for the Rachel and Tiffany Third Annual Pumpkin Bakefest sooner rather than later.

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Rachel came over on Sunday afternoon with recipe and most of the ingredients needed in hand.  I pulled out my recipe and we realized that we were going to need more butter than I had on hand.  So we hopped in the car, ran down to Kroger (for the second time for both of us that day) and headed back, each with a package of butter in our hand.

This year we both decided (independently) that we were going to do a version of pumpkin oatmeal cookies.  We started pulling out the rest of the ingredients from her bag and my pantry and fridge.  It was then I realized that I did not have nearly as much flour as I thought I did and that it would not be enough for both of us.  Rather than going back to Kroger for a third time in less than 12 hours, I rummaged around my kitchen and discovered a box of spice cake mix I got a few weeks ago on sale.  Figuring that my recipe called for most of the ingredients already included in the spice cake mix, I decided to forgo the flour entirely for the cake mix.

Cake mix instead of flour!

Cake mix instead of flour!

We each set out with recipe in hand and mixing bowls and ingredients at the ready.  She was catching me up on some of the classes she is taking this year and a concert that she went to recently; I was filling her in on the exciting details of my new job, and just generally having a good time.  Now, although my kitchen is a little larger than the one in my previous apartment, there is not a ton of counter space.  I had set up shop mostly on this little 2 ft x 3ft area next to the sink, the bulk of our shared ingredients were on the other side of the sink, and Rachel had set up on the just beyond the ingredients next to the stove.  Somewhere in the chaos is my microwave.  My recipe called for two sticks of butter, melted.  So I plopped two sticks of butter in 2 cup glass measuring cup, popped it in the microwave and melted them down to liquid gold.  My mistake was taking it out and leaving it on the section of the counter that was unofficially designated for the shared ingredients… near-ish to the edge of the counter.

What had happened was… Rachel grabbed the flour cannister, which proceeded to slip out of her hand and bump into the measuring cup of melted butter, which then fell off the counter and onto the floor.  So there we were, standing in shock for a second, staring at a giant puddle of melted butter and shards of glass.  At that moment, I was so happy that I had opted to buy another pack of butter on our trip to Kroger, otherwise, I would have just given up!

The great butter spill of 2014.

The great butter spill of 2014.

"Butter, Y'all"

“Butter, Y’all” The pictures were blurry because I was laughing at the whole situation.

I put some shoes on, grabbed a towel and Rachel and I got to work picking up the glass and attempting to clean up the butter-spill that was slowly creeping across my kitchen floor.  Once the majority was sopped up,  I tossed the towel in the open washing machine (which was a huge mistake.  In an upcoming blog post I will tell you the greasy tale of trying to clean butter out of your washing machine), tried to Swiffer mop up the remaining slick residue, and set back to the task of baking.

Fortunately I had a spare measuring cup, so I melted some more butter, placed is safely away from Rachel and the other ingredients, and finally moved onto the next steps in the recipe.

Pumpkin Puree does not equal Pumpkin Pie Filling.  Be sure to use pure pumpkin!

Pumpkin Puree does not equal Pumpkin Pie Filling. Be sure to use pure pumpkin!

I got my can of pumpkin puree, opened it, dumped the whole thing in, mixed all of the other ingredients together, and was getting ready to start portioning out my cookies.  The only thing was, the recipe said the dough would be really thick.  My dough was only sort of thick.  What had I done wrong?  Did using the spice cake mix instead of flour really make that big of a difference?  Did I forget to add something?  I went back to the recipe and re-read it.  There is was, plain as day.  The recipe only called for about 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree.  I had pretty much doubled this by adding the entire can.  I did the only thing I could do at that point.  I added the rest of the cake mix, a few more spices, debated about adding another egg yolk, but decided against it.  I did however decide that I should probably do a couple of test cookies before I baked the entire batch.

Basic oatmeal pumpkin cookie batter

Basic oatmeal pumpkin cookie batter

Test batch # 1: slivered almonds, dark chocolate chunks, and dried cranberries. Yum!

Test batch # 1: slivered almonds, dark chocolate chunks, and dried cranberries. Yum!

In the test cookies, I added a few chocolate chunks, some almond slivers and a handful of dried cranberries.  Baked them for a smidge longer than recommended, and tasted.  They were decent, but weren’t all that sweet.  I added a little bit of sugar to a second test batch, baked those off, and they seemed pretty darned tasty.  I added a little more sugar to the remainder of the dough, portioned the dough out into about 4 different batches and added different mix-ins to each smaller batch.  For some reason, when homemade pumpkin cookies bake, they are usually not very pretty, but they are almost always delicious.  These were not the exception.

Not very pretty, but pretty tasty!

Not very pretty, but pretty tasty!

Rachel made a different version of pumpkin oatmeal cookies and had a few test cookies to decide how she was going to add caramel to hers.  She tried cutting the caramel squares into little bits and mixing them into the dough, stuffing a larger piece of caramel into the center of the cookie, or placing a chunk of caramel on top like a chocolate kiss.  Ultimately stuffing the cookie worked out the best.  They were delicious!

My oatmeal pumpkin cookies on the left, Rachel's on the right.  To the far right, we tried some with dark Hershey's kisses!

My oatmeal pumpkin cookies on the left, Rachel’s on the right. To the far right, we tried some with dark Hershey’s kisses!

I am including Rachel’s recipe, the original recipe that I intended to use, and then the recipe with as many substitutions that I made as I can remember.  If anyone is interested in any of the other recipes from years past (ice cream muffins, crust-less pie…. etc) drop me a note in the comments below!

Happy baking!

Rachel’s Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies
Ingredients:
1 ½ cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 ¾ cup rolled oats
¾ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
¾ cup pumpkin
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375°F
Combine flour, baking soda, and spices.
Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and combine well.
Add pumpkin, oats, and flour.
Drop by the teaspoonful 1 ¼ inch apart.
Bake for 15 minutes.

Tiffany’s intended recipe (Courtesy of Sallysbakingaddiction.com)

  • 2 cups + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup dark molasses
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar (or light)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups total add-ins (chocolate chips, dried cranberries, pecans, white chocolate, almonds, or a combination)

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together. Fold in the oats. Set aside.

Melt the butter in the microwave in a medium size bowl.  Whisk in the molasses, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Once combined, whisk in the egg.  Add the pumpkin and vanilla and whisk until thick and combined completely. Pour into dry ingredients and gently mix.  Fold in your add-ins.

Scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets. About 2 or 3 Tablespoons of dough per cookie. Slightly flatten the help the cookies spread in the oven. Do not flatten completely.

Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes until very lightly browned on the edges, and still appearing soft in the centers.

My substitutions:  

Use a package of spice cake mix instead of flour
Use one full can of pumpkin
Use slightly less than required amounts of spices and baking powder

Other than those substitutions, mix and bake according to above directions.

 

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