What’s On My Mindgrapes

in case you were curious



October is the most satisfying month. It’s extra long this year; we get almost five whole weekends. That means extra time to spend planning your Halloween costumes, so no excuses.

October is also the best time of year in the Midwest. The leaves and still mostly on the trees, and I look down my street and see fiery reds and greens fading to yellow. I dread the day when all the trees collectively agree to lose their leaves and, POOF, the frigid bleakness that is Minnesota winter sets in for the next five months. But I won’t get ahead of myself. Thankfully it’s only October.

The Mighty Mississippi
The Mighty Mississippi

I’ve written about my love for a warm, welcoming oven, but I wouldn’t call myself a good baker. I’ve been known to completely forget to add crucial ingredients, like baking soda, and I’m left with a brick of dense, inedible banana bread. Whenever I try a new recipe, there’s a little bit of me that feels anxious about the results. Sure this tastes good to me, but that’s because I’ve been sampling the dough for the past hour. Will my friends like it? Will they be able to tell I added baking soda at the last minute because Roxie had to remind me? Thankfully, the cookies I made this weekend turned out great, and weren’t affected by my last-minute addition of the blasted baking soda. I forgot to take photos of the cookies, but I will tell you they were a lovely shade of orange with flecks of chocolate brown- perfect for fall.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from George Duran of the Food Network

Makes 60 smallish cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (or if you’re using unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to dry ingredients)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs (best at room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda (this is essential!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups (12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips (you can also try white chocolate if you’re feeling fancy)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. The batter will be very wet and orange in color.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

They will be very soft and almost cake-like. Storing them in an air-tight container traps too much moisture, so I would leave them out for the first day or so and then keep them in a container when they start to feel too dry.

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