Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites, My Favorite Christmas Cookie

Well, my co-contributor Chef Edwin is going to smack his forehead when he sees this post, but I can’t let that stand in my way, right? I’m still stuck on Christmas, and I have the leftover Christmas cookies and constantly expanding waistline to prove it!

pumpkin oatmeal bites stirring in oats

It seemed to me like more people than ever were baking for Christmas this year, and I had no qualms about sampling everything that came my way. From leftover Bake-A-Thon 2008 treats, to sweet, melt-in-your-mouth Baklava from a friend at my mom’s office, to moist spice cake from a new significant other on my husband’s side of the family… my Christmas holiday consisted of enjoying delectable new desserts. Thank you, everyone!

pumpkin oatmeal bites stirring in chips

I’d like to share with you a recipe that I brought to Bake-A-Thon 2008 this year, but I also made it again on Christmas Eve with my mom. It has been a favorite of mine for years. My mom originally found it in a Better Homes cookbook; I have adapted it to include more pumpkin and more chocolate chips which I think makes them even more moist.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites

Readers, I know you may be tempted to think that I’d love any recipe that includes pumpkin, regardless of how it tastes – and I can see why you would think that based on my history here. But truly, this recipe has everything you could want:

1)You only need two bowls to make these cookies.
2) You do not need any fancy tools, appliances or decorating devices.
3) They’re not overly sweet.
4) Because of the pumpkin, they stay incredibly moist after several days. They’re also great for mailing (which I tested this year).
5) If you use high quality chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli), the chocolate adds a perfect amount of sweetness.
6) It makes 120 cookies. 120! Let’s face it, when you’re baking Christmas cookies you’re probably looking to make more than one dozen.
7) They contain 3 cups of oats and pumpkin is a super food, so you can pretend that you’re eating healthy.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites and Morgan

This is the last time I’ll say it for the rest of the year, I promise – give pumpkin a chance!

Edwin and I would love to know what kinds of Christmas cookies you baked this year, and which ones were well received. Please share your favorites with us!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites

Pumpkin Oatmeal Bites
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, Cookies for Christmas (1985)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl with a mixer beat butter until softened. Beat in brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, then pumpkin.

Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in oats and chocolate chips (use a thick, sturdy spoon. I’ve broken flimsy wooden spoons while stirring in all the oats before!).

Use a teaspoon measure to scoop onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool for 1-2 minutes, then move to a wire rack. Cookies will cool quickly. Makes about 120.

Bake-A-Thon 2008 – Love In Edible Form

December is a special time of the year for many of us. Whether you’re celebrating the religious or secular aspects of the season, there’s a bit of magic in the air. It’s a time to enjoy family and friends, to reflect on the year, to simply remember what’s important in life.

Finishing Touches

Part of that for me is making sure the important parts aren’t drowned out by the unimportant. I talk specifically about the rampant commercialism that seems to go hand in hand with the holidays. I’m sure this is nothing you haven’t heard before. We all want to express our love and appreciation for those special people in our lives and somehow this has evolved into purchasing gifts for them. This isn’t to say a symbol in material form is inherently bad, but it’s easy to get caught up in a belief that love must be expressed in through a price tag.

Rugelach FunRaw Cookie Dough

I have many people in my life that I am truly grateful for; people that are hard to imagine without. And I want to tell them this. I want them to know what they mean to me and that I am thinking of them; whether they be someone from my past who I’ve fallen out of touch with or someone new and still getting to know. And I want to do this without attaching a receipt to the act or making them feel obligated to do the same. (How many times have you received a gift from someone only to feel a twinge of regret for having not bought them one as well?)

White Chocolate Cherry ChunkiesRugelach Slicing

I started a tradition last year with some friends that I call Bake-A-Thon. Bake-A-Thon is a day in December where a bunch of my fellow baking enthusiasts (Heather included) and I get together to bake cookies for the entire day. After all the baking is done and the cookies have been cooled, we divvy them up and send them to out respective loved ones. This is our way of taking our passion and using it to show our love and appreciation for those special people in our lives.

Intense

Bake-A-Thon 2008 took place this past weekend and went even better than last year’s. Each baker selected one cookie recipe and together baked several batches from each. This year’s line up was Lebkuchen, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Rugelach Pinwheels and White Chocolate Cherry Chunkies. We all had fun and the cookie turnout was immense. Bake-A-Thon will be a tradition for years to come.

Our Bounty

 

On Monday my office had a white elephant gift exchange, something like Secret Santa except the gifts are meant to be inexpensive and sometimes humorous. I’ve never participated in one of these before, so I was pretty excited and a little nervous. I heard that in our office the gifts were usually a mix of gags and real gifts, so I opted for a something in the middle.

Thumbprint Cookie dough

I acquired a wonderfully tacky Christmas cookie jar from my mother-in-law. Imagine a very shiny and bright red, green and gold round Christmas tree ornament, except enlarged about five times. I thought this would be a perfect white elephant gift, remembering the quote, “One man’s trash is another’s treasure.” But I was nervous that maybe this was TOO silly.

So to “sweeten” the deal, I scoured my cookbooks for a Christmas cookie recipe to fill the cookie jar with, something classic that would appeal to multiple people, but something that I wasn’t already planning on baking. I settled on a great, versatile recipe found in one of my old Kraft Food magazines.

Thumbprint Cookies, PecansThumbprint Cookies, mixing nuts

I’ve mentioned before that Kraft has some very useful recipes, especially for people strapped for time or those trying to get into cooking and baking but aren’t sure how. This particular cookie recipe can make four variations of cookies, all using the same basic dough recipe but with minor variations. I chose to only make one kind this time – Thumbprints Cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies, dough balls

Because I still fear the scale, I substituted fat free cream cheese in place of regular. This probably wasn’t the best decision because, well, fat tastes good! If you’re making food for others you want it to shine, and I broke one of my cardinal rules by substituting. To make up for this and sweeten the dough a bit without adding more sugar, I added a teaspoon of ground anise seed. Anise seed is expensive, but I’m always willing to blow my budget a bit when holiday food is involved. The anise seed was very aromatic and added a distinctive, but not overpowering, sweetness.

Thumbprint Cookies, indented

For future confections, I need to make a rule that I will never post about baked goods the same day I make them – I always enjoy them more the next day! I’m glad I reserved judgment on these cookies. My husband really loved them right out of the oven, but I think they got even better after they set. It’s rare when I find a cookie my husband really gets excited about; these are a keeper!

Thumbprint Cookies, ready to eat

Blackberry & Apricot Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from Kraft Foods Magazine

1 package cream cheese (8 0z, I used fat free)
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened (3/4 cup)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tsp. anise seed, ground
blackberry and apricot jam (or jam of your choice, but the apricot is excellent)

Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Add flour and baking soda gradually. Mix well. Stir in pecans and anise seed (you can grind the anise seed by putting it in a bag and hitting it with a tenderizer). Make sure it’s well-blended. Cover and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes (make sure you do this so that the butter doesn’t get to soft; you don’t want your cookies to fall flat in the oven).

Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a 1/2 tablespoon measure, scoop dough in 1 inch balls, rounding dough into balls. Place on parchment lined baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Indent the dough using your thumb. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. The indentations may have risen in the oven, just push it down as needed and carefully fill eat cookie with jam. Continue baking for 8-10 minutes.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Crispy Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Good Luck on Game Day

Two of my good friends recently purchased and moved in to their first home. They invited my husband and I over on Sunday to watch the Steelers vs. Cowboys game and get our first glimpse of their new home. It was very exciting, and also time to crank up the oven for an edible housewarming/game day treat.

chocolate mix for chocolate chunk cookies

I keep the recipes I’m looking forward to making in an archived folder online, I have a binder where I print recipes and tear others out of magazines to hold for later, and of course, I have lots of cookbooks. But sometimes you just want to be a little impulsive with what you make!

I received a Great American Recipes preview pack of recipe cards a couple months ago; on Sunday I was cleaning out my recipe binder and I found them again. One of the cards was a simple chocolate chunk cookies recipe and I figured, “why not!”

chocolate chunk cookies

I usually lean towards soft, chewy cookies, and the recipe said these would be soft and chewy, but I thought they actually came out on the crispy side (I know many people prefer crispy cookies, so I didn’t stress). I combined semi-sweet, bittersweet, and white chocolate in the cookies, but I think they would be better with bigger chunks of just one type of chocolate. I also added chopped walnuts to half the batch.

Everyone should have a reliable cookie recipe; I don’t think this one will be mine, though they were pretty good. What is your go-to cookie recipe?

chocolate chunk cookies

Crispy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from Great American Recipes

1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup rolled oats
1 ¼ cups chocolate chunks (I combined semi-sweet, bittersweet, and white chocolate – I would add more to make it at least 1 ½ cups)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine softened butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Beat until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract; set aside.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda into a small bowl. Gradually add this mixture to the butter mixture and beat continuously. Carefully fold in oats and chocolate chunks.

Spoon tablespoonfuls of dough, two inches apart, onto the baking sheets (these cookies will spread). Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Cool on pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

This makes about 2 dozen cookies.

At the Arlington Farmers’ Market in Northern Virginia on Saturdays you can find a woman that makes the most amazing cookies. She simply goes by “The Cookie Lady” at her stand, and she pulls you in by offering free samples of any of her cookies.

Packed Peanut Butter Cookie Batter

They’re twice the size of a regular cookie, thick, dense and they taste like cookies on steroids. Imagine enjoying a delicious peanut butter cookie – now imagine eating a jar of peanut butter. There is not a lot of subtlety to her flavors, they’re just completely packed and insanely delicious.

Packed Peanut Butter Cookies

To attempt to recreate these cookies but in a smaller, more manageable form, I was thinking about The Cookie Lady’s peanut butter cookies and also looking at some recipes from Cookie Madness and Smitten Kitchen. Instead of using peanut butter chips, I doubled the amount of smooth peanut butter. I also added 1/2 tablespoon of milk. Half the batch I kept as pure, unadulterated peanut butter cookies, and the other half I experimented by adding semi-sweet chocolate chips, bittersweet chips, or white chocolate chips.

I think these came out really well. They’re still not quite at the level of The Cookie Lady, but they are packed with peanut butter. I liked the plain peanut butter cookies without chips the best, but if you’d like to add something to the batter the white chocolate chips were also a nice touch.

Packed Peanut Butter Cookies

Packed Peanut Butter Cookies
inspired by The Cookie Lady, Cookie Madness and Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4
cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif Reduced Fat Creamy – it’s my favorite)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4
teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups sifted flour
1/2 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two ungreased cookie sheets with parchment paper. Combine softened butter, dark brown sugar and granulated sugar. Beat in the peanut butter and egg. Beat in the salt, baking soda, vanilla and milk until fully incorporated. Add sifted flour last and stir until blended. If you wish to add white chocolate chips, you can add them now.

Place dough on cookie sheets by 1/2 tablespoon. Gently flatten the dough balls using a fork, making a light criss cross pattern. Bake for approximately 10 minutes until done. Cool on pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. You may also like to decorate the top with some extra sugar.

This recipe makes about 30 cookies.

Everything [but the Kitchen Sink] Cookies

My husband and I are journeying to Chicago for Halloween this year (farther west than I’ve ever been, I’ll embarrassingly admit). Last year we hosted a very successful party at our apartment, but because our lives have been a little chaotic for the last few months, we thought a change of scenery might do us some good this year.

Everything Cookies, Fun Ingredients

A bunch of us are converging on a friend’s apartment, and of course I can’t show up empty-handed. Kudos to the other half of DinnerCakes, Edwin, for suggesting this outstanding recipe from Sunday Nite Dinner!

Everything Cookies, Oats and Raisins

Hopefully these cookies survive airport security and are well-received by my friend. And, Kari, if you’re reading this post right now, “Surprise, cookies!”

Everything Cookies, Chips and More Chips

Sweet, hearty, crunchy yet chewy, a buttery cookie smell that takes you back to elementary school, a hint of fruit – these cookies are a breath of fresh air. They call for a flurry of ingredients, but even just measuring them all and getting them together was absolutely heavenly!

Everything Cookies, Tossed

Ghost Baker’s verdict and salty suggestions:

You must make these cookies; how’s that for a suggestion? I really didn’t change anything about the recipe except, following a note at the top, I increased the salt quantity from 1/2 teaspoon to 3/4.

Everything Cookies, Hand Mixing

Because these cookies already include, well, everything, I wouldn’t add any more ingredients. If you like an even more peanut buttery taste (the peanut butter as it stands is subtle, I like it) then swap the measurements of the chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. You could also exchange the walnuts for pecans or, if you really just have to go wild, swap in craisins instead of raisins.

Everything Cookies, Ready to Eat

Everything Cookies
from Sunday Nite Dinner

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups low fat granola
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet work well)
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (room temperature)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, toss granola, raisins, rolled oats, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and walnuts; set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then whisk the ingredients together until combined.

In your stand mixer bowl (or another large bowl if you don’t have a stand mixer), combine the granulated and dark brown sugar. Add a few pieces of butter at a time and beat until it’s thick and smooth. Add vanilla and beat in the eggs, one at time. Fold in your flour mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Add the granola, raisins and chips and mix well together by hand (you would probably break your wooden spoon even if you tried).

Using a tablespoon, scoop a hefty 2 tablespoons of dough at a time and roll into 2-inch balls. Place the balls onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Space your dough balls approximately 2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookie edges turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool your cookies on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack (your mouth works, too). Cool for about 30 minutes, then store in an air-tight container.

This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Now THAT'S a Perfect Pumpkin Cookie

Eureka! Joy the Baker has blessed us with the most marvelous Pumpkin Cookie recipe that I’ve tried. This recipe dances circles around the one I tried last week.

Part of the key is flattening and smoothing the dough with a thin metal spatula before baking. At first I thought this step seemed a little odd to me, but having a flatter cookie (still very soft and cake-like) came out so much tastier than the poofy, muffin-like variety.

Also this recipe called for more of your typical pumpkin pie spices such as nutmeg and cloves. It tastes exactly the way delicious pumpkin desserts were meant to!

Pumpkin Cookies, fresh out of the oven

Ghost Baker’s verdict and pumpkin-packed suggestions:

If you like a caramel taste to your pumpkin cookies, then butterscotch chips would be great. I knew from my previous pumpkin cookie attempt that I wanted more chocolate (who doesn’t?). Instead of just 1 cup of chocolate chips, I added an extra 1/2 cup and used bittersweet chocolate chips. I also used a whole can of pumpkin instead of a half can.

Pumpkin Cookies, in an air tight container

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Joy the Baker

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola or corn oil
1 can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (can also substitute or mix with butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, etc.)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with buttered parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or stand mixer), lightly beat eggs and sugar until smooth (about 1 minute). On low, add the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Stir in chips.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 measuring cup, scoop dough onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Don’t forget to use a thin metal spatula to smooth and flatten the dough!

Bake cookies one sheet at a time for about 16 minutes – the top should feel a little firm and a toothpick or fork inserted in the center will come out dry. Let the cookies sit for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Cool the cookies completely before storing in an air tight container. Try not to eat them all in one sitting! Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, so they say

Hello hello!

Welcome to DINNERCAKES – the blog that brings you fun and fresh recipes from oven to stove top, hosted by Edwin Bachetti and Heather (Ghost Baker)!

It’s a beautiful fall day here in Arlington, Virginia, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off this blog than with something not only completely appropriate for the season, but also that contains my favorite ingredient – pumpkin!

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES MIXING

My co-host may try to fight it, but October is all about pumpkin. I’m convinced he just hasn’t experienced the right kind of pumpkin confection yet, and it’s my duty to change all that!

Why do we, minus Edwin of course, love pumpkin? Is it the imagery it brings to mind – scrambling around the pumpkin patch with mom and dad looking for that perfect pumpkin to take home or the smell of dried leaves and their extraordinary palette of colors? Pumpkin alone isn’t exactly bland, but it’s not overpowering. It’s an excellent compliment to so many meals in the form of pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin enchiladas, or as a dessert. Pumpkin, done right, can take on so many forms.

My brother and I are well-known in the family as being able to finish off a whole pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving by ourselves (I wish I was joking). My mouth waters every time I come across a new pumpkin recipe.

I was delighted when I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies on Cookie Madness. I practically ran home from work to try this recipe.

I gobbled one down the minute they came out of the oven and I thought, “good, but not GREAT.”

IMG_2355PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES BAKING SHEET

Ghost Baker’s verdict and spicey suggestions:

This Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe was, just as Cookie Madness writes, “super-cakey.” They came out almost like little muffins, except without the delicious muffin top. The overpowering flavor seemed to be the 2 cups of flour – it needs some zip!

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Instead of one cup of chocolate chips, try adding either an additional 1/2 cup or splitting the total amount with chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.

Also, what is a pumpkin dessert without the pumpkin pie spice? Spice these cookies up by adding 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp of cloves, and 1/4 tsp of allspice.

The recipe without these suggestions is a great treat to bring to the office, I know my husband says his office scarfed them down, but if you really want to pack in some punch some additional spices and chips are a must!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Cookie Madness

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour or white whole wheat flour (9 oz)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat pumpkin, egg, sugar, oil, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. Fold in the flour and stir just until mixed. Stir in chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Using a tablespoon measure or ice cream scoop, drop onto parchment lined cookie sheets 1-2 inches apart (don’t worry, they don’t spread). Bake at 375º for 13 to 15 minutes.

Remove from tray and begin eating immediately! I’ve found these cookies are best while warm.

Makes about 32 cookies.