Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Fall Foliage of 2015

As I'm writing this post in my kitchen, I have an amazing view of the trees around our home, most of which are changing color.  There's nothing like having the fall foliage of the east coast right outside your door, and as you can probably guess, this is definitely my favorite time of year.  If I'm lucky and have a free afternoon, I take a walk around the trails, field and areas near the house with my camera in order to capture what the landscape looks like.  Comparisons from year to year really are eye openers for us, because there are some years when it is quite disappointing to find the foliage unremarkable due to weather conditions in the weeks leading up to October.

This particular season we have been very fortunate in having a superb display by mother nature.  Spring and summer give us splashes of color through the various shrubs and showy flowers, but when the fall season comes around, it's the deciduous trees which show us their natural beauty.  This seasonal spectacle is due to the breaking down of chlorophyl in the leaves, which results from changes in the length of daylight and shifts in temperature.  Depending on what part of the country you live in, the timetable of leaf changes will vary throughout the month of October.  Ours happens to be right now.

As I have made my way around our home in the past few weeks, I have really stopped to take in the views of the trees from various points of reference.  Whether I’m making my way up the driveway to head out for one of my walks around town, or if I decide to stroll around the barn and the field behind it, I have my moments where I just have to stop and be in complete awe.

The driveway must get swept on a weekly basis.
It’s hard to imagine that only a short while ago, everything was still quite green.  Last week I remarked on the fact that some trees off in the distance were already turning yellow, but just days ago, the timing was perfect to start photographing. Everything was simply beautiful.

Take a little walk with me and see what Pennsylvania looks like right now, because it doesn't get any better than this.   

This photograph was taken last week, and as you can see, the leaves are a slightly yellowish-green.  When the leaves of the trees take on this chartreuse tone, I know that within the week everything will be yellow, red, orange, burgundy and perhaps even a dark mulberry or deep raisin color.

It's very important to look up as you are standing under some of the oaks, maples, beeches and lindens, because things can be quite magnificent. 

I could have stayed in this spot for a while simply gazing at the foliage on this overcast afternoon.  The color palette was so amazing to me.
One of my favorite trees here on the property is a majestic beech tree right in front of the house.  It stands between the house and the barn, and when the timing is right, the tree is out of this world.  

This photograph taken on October 25th, 2015 from the center hall of the second floor of our home doesn't do it justice.  Trust me when I tell you that the tree is stately, marvelous and quite splendid all year round.

All of the photographs below were taken on October 27th, 2015
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

Having been blown free of leaves only hours before this, the driveway was looking clean.  During the fall, however, the clean look doesn't last.  A wind here, a breeze there, will make the leaves fall off in droves.  Within days everything will be covered until the next clean up.

Some trees, as you can see, have already shed all of their leaves.  The locusts, in particular, are always the first of the specimen trees to become completely bare of leaves.  They are among the tallest here at home.  These bare trees look so forlorn and gloomy, but in a matter of weeks everything will be just as bleak.

I love this area near the barn patio.  Several oak, black walnut and beech trees, along with a couple of dogwoods (the red-leaf specimens), reside here.  It's not uncommon to find great, big walnut casings littered throughout the driveway.  If split open, the black walnuts dye the pavement because of their hard inner layer of black pericarp.   

Many of my friends near and far have been sharing photographs through social media of what their homes look like right now, and from Colorado to North Carolina, everything looks spectacular.  It's really a time of year when we should all be enjoying the landscape, whether it be through taking a walk, a jog through a park, a stroll through a neighborhood or even a last-of-the-season cookout.  

Yet another beech tree that I greatly admire.  This tall tree with its vast root system flanks the long driveway.  It has an 'eye' where once a large branch used to grow.  The tree provides a good amount of shade through the spring and summer, but during fall, it makes a beautiful presentation of colorful foliage.
The fall foliage this time of year is so breathtaking whenever I drive up or walk along our driveway.  I always feel the urge to start photographing whether it be through using my cellphone (least favorite method) or my digital camera. Although this gives you an idea of what it looks like right now, you really need to be here in person in order to get the full effect of the color palette.  

Our neighbors across the way have a really beautiful maple tree which is so remarkable.  Aren't the colors gorgeous?

Standing next to the cedar split-fence area, I get a panoramic view of the sloping hill and driveway.  Some evergreen trees, a few dogwoods, maples and oaks cover this area with a lush canopy during the spring and summer, but at the moment, they're getting ready to complete their leaf transformation before they become bare.

The Field

I wish we could enjoy the glorious moments of the fall foliage for weeks and weeks, but the sensational spectacle is short-lived.  Now is the time we should all take a pause from our busy lives so that we can appreciate how much beauty mother nature gives us.  Yes, we are all engaged with planning for the approaching holidays with countless baking projects, cooking of meals and entertaining of friends & family, but our overall well-being should include a bit of activity outdoors.  Whether you decide to take a walk, a quick jog or a hike through an open area in your town or city, be aware of the changes around you. Don't forget to have a camera handy so that you too can capture the fall foliage in your part of the country.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Best Way to Roll Out Cookie Dough

I've shown here on the blog the few ways to roll out sugar cookie doughs, and for years I have always been pleased with my tried & true method, but if I'm going to be honest, I've changed my technique and will never go back. Long gone are the days when I used to flour my rolling surface, rolling pin and the top of a disk of cookie dough.  Now that I've become more busy in my daily life, I want to make less of a production whenever I have to roll out cookie doughs, and not make too much of a mess in the kitchen. Quick, easy, and totally effortless, rolling out sugar cookie doughs and those with a similar texture, can become a task that only takes a few minutes, rather than a couple of hours waiting for the dough to sit and chill, then getting it rolled out from the refrigerator.

With a few pieces of parchment paper, some dowels and a sturdy rolling pin, I begin to roll out my doughs as soon as they come off the mixer.  It's as easy as 1-2-3.

A couple of years ago I came across a video segment by cookbook author, Nancy Baggett, in which she showed how easy and effortlessly she rolled out her cookie doughs, and for me, it was a moment of sudden revelation when I saw her method.  Nancy is one of those consummate bakers who knows her subject through and through, and to my mind, she is a national treasure when it comes to cookie baking.

Although I can't claim this as my own method, since all the credit goes to Nancy, I will show you how it's done, because it is the technique you should be using in your own kitchen whenever you feel like cutting out shapely cookies using your cookie cutters.  Trust me, you will find it to be your preferred way to roll out cookie doughs throughout the year, and if you're a busy baker like I am, that means doing it quite often.  

Let's get started!

Sugar Cookies ready for some royal icing.

Tools for Rolling Out Cookie Dough & Cutting Out Shapes
  • Sugar Cookie Dough
  • Parchment Paper
  • Dowels in 1/4", 3/8" and/or 1/2" in thickness
  • Metal Spatulas
  • Pastry Brush
  • Baking Sheets/ Half Sheets
Note: the thicker the cookie, the sturdier it will be for decorating, packaging and mailing.  I find a 3/8" dowel to produce the best thickness for iced sugar cookies.  

Most sugar cookies contain the basics of butter, sugar, flour, vanilla and an egg or two.  Any combination of these will produce slightly different-textured cookies, depending on the recipe.  Whether you like your cookies to be sandy and tender, like Scottish shortbread or crisp and crunchy, like the sugar cookies that we bake during the holidays, you can begin to roll out your cookie doughs as soon as they're made.

Working with cut out pieces of parchment paper, I divide my dough in half when it comes off the stand mixer.  Working with one half of the dough, pat it into an oblong rectangle.  Have your dowels and rolling pin handy.

Place another piece of parchment paper over the dough and begin to roll it out between the dowels, using them as guides for the rolling pin.  You will see how quickly the dough rolls out evenly in between the parchment paper. 

The parchment may crease and wedge itself between the dough as you're doing this.  Stop rolling out the cookie dough, and gently lift the top piece of parchment paper to smooth it out.  Continue rolling until the entire slab of dough is even and of the same thickness as the dowels.  As soon as you don't feel any resistance, and the edges of the rolling pin are gliding on the dowels unimpeded,  you know you've rolled out the dough evenly.

Proceed with the other half of the cookie dough and fresh pieces of parchment paper.

If you notice any creases or breaks in the dough when you lift the parchment paper, gently roll them smooth with the rolling pin.

If I'm in a hurry or if I don't feel like cutting out a top piece of parchment paper, I will use plastic wrap for rolling out the dough (see gingerbread cookie dough above).

Chilling Cookie Dough
  • Depending on the recipe, every rolled out slab of cookie dough should be chilled before proceeding with cutting out shapes. Gently side and pile onto the back of a rimmed baking sheet as many slabs of cookie dough you have rolled out.
  • 30 minutes to 1 hour of chilling will suffice for my recipes here on the blog, but other recipes which contain more sugar may require a couple of hours to firm up. 
  • Hint:  to speed up the process, pop the rolled out cookie doughs into the freezer for 30 minutes, then proceed to cut out the cookies.
Using a small dish of flour, dip your cookie cutters before cutting out shapes.  I always cut out my cookies as close together as possible in order to minimize rolling out scraps, but even so, rolling out scraps up to two times will still give good results.  If any flour sticks to the cut out shapes, brush it off with a clean pastry brush.

Remember to use wide metal spatulas (such as brownie spatulas) to move the cut out shapes onto lined baking sheets.  The cookies can now be baked in a preheated oven, per your recipe.

For those of you who cut out large cookies (those with 6"-9" dimensions), like this adorable squirrel from Martha by Mail, it's very important to cut out cookies from chilled cookie dough and then give them another quick 30 minute chill while the oven is preheating.  
  • I cut out the large cookies of at least 3/8" thickness, and remove the excess dough from around the shapes, leaving the cookie cut outs on the parchment paper.  
  • These are then moved back into the refrigerator on rimmed baking sheets to firm up thoroughly.  
  • Once the large shapes are quite firm, I then proceed to gently move them onto prepared baking sheets with two large spatulas (such as pancake turners).
  • Bake according to the recipe.

Upon close inspection, you can see that every single baked sugar cookie in the photo above is straight and even.  These types of cookies are the best to decorate with royal icing, because outlining and flooding cookies creates a flawless, smooth finish when everything is flat & even.

Sugar and Spice Cookies

With the holidays approaching, many of us are going to be baking dozens of cookies for friends, family and perhaps clients who want to partake of our tasty and beautiful creations.  Not exactly assembly-line style, rolling out cookie dough between pieces of parchment with dowels as guides, is the fastest way to get cookies cut out and baked in a home kitchen.  Believe me, as much as I love to bake and decorate cookies all year long, the less time I spend in my kitchen, the better.  I hope all of you cookie bakers out there begin to roll out your cookie doughs this way, if you don't already, and profit from this easy and simple technique.  Thank you, Nancy Baggett!

Happy Baking,


Friday, October 16, 2015

Spooky Halloween Cookies

Every single Halloween it is so much fun coming up with a different set of "spooky" cookies for my niece and nephews, because I like surprising the little ones.  This year I decided to make festive, hair-raising cookies iced in colors that conjure up the spirit of Halloween.  The base cookie is a tasty, spiced sugar cookie which has brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom.  It's a great cookie to eat on its own (one of my favorites), but it's even better if you decorate it with a good royal icing.

Halloween Cookies
The first order of business whenever I set out to make iced cookies is to go through my expanding collection of cookie cutters to see what I need.  This time around I selected some Halloween shapes that I hadn't used before and that I knew would make great, ghoulish treats.  All of these cookie cutters, with the exception of 3 small cutters, are high-quality, American-made, copper cookie cutters that are definitely going to be used for years to come.  With an owl, some pumpkins, cats, a bat, and a skull, I cut out and baked several cookies.

To ice them, I restricted myself to a small color palette in shades of black, white, burnt orange, pumpkin, golden wheat and a pale avocado color, because I didn't want to create too much of a fuss.  Remember, kids don't want to wait too long to get their treats, so the faster you make them the better!  

Perhaps my favorite of the colors were the two shades of pumpkin (photo of the iced pumpkins above).  To achieve those deep, almost burnt orange tones, I mixed orange paste food coloring and then darkened it with a nut brown color.  Wait a minute or two to gauge the tones when mixing.  The shades are subtle, but very effective.

To make these cookies you will need:

My preferred way to ice cookies is to lay out everything on the counter in an orderly manner, and within easy reach.  A cake decorating turntable gets used to ice a number of cookies at once.  Bats, pumpkins and skulls take no time at all to outline and flood this way.  If you have candies, nonpareils and sanding sugars, have those handy, along with all of the other necessary tools to apply them with.

  1. Owls: to ice the owls, outline and flood the bases of the owls in either black, pumpkin or white royal icing; let dry.  Outline the body, feathers and feet with a bead of royal icing in a contrasting color; if you want to fill the wings, flood them now and add candies as you see fit.  Pipe the irises of the eyes in either rounds or in tilted half-moons with a contrasting color, and add dots for pupils in black royal icing; let dry. Pipe a beak and let dry
  2. Halloween Calico Cats: The haphazard patches of these calico cats makes them charming.  Outline and flood patches in black, pumpkin, burnt orange and white royal icing throughout the body of the cat, making sure to connect the colors (if you're going to marble the colors, do so with a toothpick, making sure to wipe the toothpick between colors so that they don't get muddy).  Let dry completely.  Trace the outline of the cat by piping a bead of orange royal icing around the perimeter of the cutout and then pipe whiskers, and a dot for an eye. Let dry. 

The Owls and Kitty Cat Cookies are perhaps my favorite of the bunch!

Halloween wouldn't be the same without some spiders, spiderwebs and a few adorable bats.  I love these two cookie cutters.  Their icing designs are pretty simple to do.

  1. Bats: Outline and flood the bases in the desired color and let dry.  Pipe a bead of royal icing in a contrasting color to delineate ears, wings and tails.  Pipe dots for eyes and small fangs.
  2. Spiderwebs:  Outline and flood bases in white royal icing.  For smooth surface art, pipe spiderweb design while the base icing is still wet. Attach any spider candies to wet surface and let dry.  Pipe a chubby spider, making sure to add 4 legs to each side and 2 dots for eyes.  For a raised design, let base dry completely and then pipe spiderwebs.  You can then add dots along the weaving or leave as is.  Attach spider candies and pipe a chubby spider with a contrasting color of royal icing, attaching 4 legs per side and adding 2 dots for eyes. 

Dia De Los Muertos Skulls and Pumpkins
These renditions of Dia De Los Muertos skulls were inspired by a trip I took to Mexico many years ago during the month of October.  Merchants sell a multitude of skeleton and skull sugar designs throughout Mexico in the month of October to commemorate the dead.  It is a tradition that has been practiced for many years, and although it is not one that is observed here in the United States, many of us have come to associate these skulls with Halloween more and more.  Their colorful designs are mesmerizing to say the least, and I think that they're perfect for this time of year.  The pumpkins couldn't be any easier.  
Choose whatever colors you want for your sugar cookie skulls, but make sure that you have a good array with which to work.  What I find to be most important is that you adhere to symmetry.  Every image I've come across of a Dia De Los Muertos skull has a symmetrical design.  Whether you pipe flowers, circles, dots, squiggles or arches, make sure that they are the same on each half of the skull.  For my cookies, I added small skull candies for the center of the eyes onto a wet base (this was left to dry), and then I piped royal icing all around them to encase the candies.  BOO!

The pumpkins were nothing more than having a base outlined and flooded with a single color, which was left to dry, and then having the gourd sections piped with a #1 piping tip in a contrasting color.  Don't forget to give each pumping a green stem.  The larger pumpkins were piped with a black filigree pattern.  Easy!

Good Tip:
  • If you want to bake cookies with an even thickness, roll out the cookie dough (I place it between two sheets of parchment) between two round or square dowels that are 1/4" or slightly thicker.  These wooden dowels can be found at craft stores or the hardware shop near you.
After the cookies have dried completely, which can take up to one day depending on the humidity of your home, it's time to package them up for gift-giving.  I love the warm, bright shades of orange this time of year, and what better way to tie up a bagged cookie than with a ribbon?  Packaged into clear cellophane bags, the cookies look even more enticing.  Another great alternative is to use treat boxes with a clear top.  However, if you're going to have these at your Halloween party, lay them out on platters, cake stands, or stand them up in large jars filled with sanding sugar.  Let the little ghouls and goblins choose their own.  

Something tells me that my niece will like the cats best, but she may prefer a bright pumpkin or a small bat cookie.  The nephews will probably dig into the spiderwebs and sugar skulls first.  Either way, I think they're going to like this year's Halloween cookies.

Spooky, macabre, hair-raising and ghoulishly fun, these Halloween Cookies are sure to brighten any trick-or-treater's goodie bag this year.  Remember, only give out baked goods to friends and family.

There is plenty of time to make your very own Spooky Halloween Cookies. Give yourself a weekend to roll out cookie dough and bake the shapes, then mix royal icing, and allow a full afternoon for decorating the cookies.  If you're going to host a Halloween party, I highly encourage you to set up a cookie decorating station for kids and adults, laying out baked cookies, royal icing in pastry bags or squeeze bottles, and plenty of sanding sugars and decorative candies so that guests can embellish their treats.  It's all about using one's imagination and letting artistic expression take shape on the cookie.  Have fun decorating your Halloween goodies!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Martha by Mail Pumpkin Cake Mold

The classic pumpkin cake mold from Martha by Mail makes a great cake for any occasion during the fall season.  Using warm spices and delicious pumpkin puree, the recipe given to us by the editors at Martha Stewart Living, is perfect for a Halloween party or for Thanksgiving.  You could also make one if someone is celebrating a birthday in the coming weeks or if you want to have a nibble for your pumpkin carving gathering.  With two halves "glued together" with a rich butter glaze, you can easily recreate the jack-o'-lantern cake found on the original recipe card, or you can leave a perfectly glazed cake, plain and simple, like the ones that graced a few of the past issues from the former catalog.

If you're fortunate enough to have this mold or one similar to it, bake and ice a cake in the shape of a pumpkin sometime soon, because people are going to devour the spooky, fun cake in no time at all.

"The tradition of molded cakes derives from the ancient Middle-Eastern custom of stamping symbolic designs on holy bread.  By the 17th century, Western bakers used special molds to create shaped cakes for holidays.  This durable cast-aluminum mold produces a cake in the shape of a pumpkin, ideal for serving at Halloween.  Please note that the two sides of the pumpkin mold are designed asymmetrically so that the cake will have a realistic appearance.  Before using the mold, hand wash in warm soapy water and hand dry; clean the same way after using."

Pumpkin Cake Mold Recipe Card
This photograph shows a plain pumpkin cake sitting atop a white, milk glass cake stand.  The heavy cast-aluminum cake mold, now a collectible, has handles on each side and four feet per half, to hold it steady while baking. These were made in the U.S.A.

Another pumpkin cake is given a scattering of fall-colored marzipan leaves and a generous sprinkling of sanding sugar.

This glazed pumpkin cake graced the cover of the fall 2003 Catalog for Living.

Pumpkin Cake
Serves 14 to 16

  • 1-1/4 cups (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for mold
  • 4 cups cake flour, plus more for mold
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups homemade or canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 5 large egg whites

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Using a pastry brush, generously butter the mold.  Dust with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside.  In a large bowl, sift the together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and 3-2/3 cups sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add pumpkin puree and milk, and beat on low speed until combined.  Add reserved flour mixture, and beat on medium-low speed until just combined; set aside.
  3. Using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy.  Slowly add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, and gradually increase to medium-high speed, beating until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until well combined and smooth.
  4. Pour half of the batter into each mold, to within 1 inch from the top. Using a small spatula or spoon, spread batter into the stem area to fill completely.  Transfer molds to a baking sheet, and bake until the top sets and begins to brown, about 45 minutes.  Rotate pan halfway, and reduce oven temperature to 325°.  Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  If cake begins to get too dark, loosely cover the molds with aluminum foil.
  5. Remove from oven, transfer to a wire rack, and let stand for 20 minutes. Using a serrated knife, trip cakes flush with top of the molds, and invert cakes onto a cooling rack, trimmed side down, until completely cool. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Butter Glaze
Makes 3-1/2 cups

  • 6 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted 
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons milk
  • Orange, brown, and golden yellow paste food coloring
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 6 cups sugar and butter.  Add milk, a little at a time and continue whisking until the glaze is completely combined and smooth.  Transfer 1/2 cup of the glaze to a small bowl and refrigerate.  Tint the remaining glaze with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon orange and 3 drops brown paste food coloring. 
  2. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar into the reserved glaze.  Divide glaze in half, and using yellow paste food coloring, tint one half a pale yellow, and the other half a brighter yellow;  keep covered until ready to decorate the cake.

Decorating the Pumpkin Cake

In addition to the Pumpkin Cake and Butter Glaze, you will need a utility or paring knife, serrated knife, small offset spatula, long wide spatula, wire rack, parchment paper, 3 pastry bags with #2 round tips, and a wooden skewer.  For the stem, you will need marzipan or almond paste (3 ounces), and paste food coloring in moss green.  For spiders, you will need 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/4 cup excess glaze and 1 teaspoon milk.

  1. While the cake is baking, make pumpkin's stem.  Tint marzipan very lightly with the moss green paste food coloring.  Remove 1/4 of the marzipan, and tint it darker green, using 1/8 teaspoon moss green paste food coloring.  Roll darker green marzipan into a 1/2 inch-thick rope.  Add the rope to the lighter piece of marzipan, and fold and twist the colors to just start to incorporate.  This will give the stem a swirled effect.  Shape marzipan into pumpkin stem, making the base hollow to fit over the cake stem.  Add texture with a utility or paring knife.  Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
  2. To assemble the cake, carefully, trim the base and sides of the two chilled cake halves level using serrated knife.  Make sure the trimmed halves fit together flush.  Using an offset spatula, spread 2 tablespoons orange butter glaze over each trimmed side (use a total of 4 tablespoons glaze).  Gently press halves together, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Using a wide spatula, transfer the pumpkin cake to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper.  Reheat orange butter glaze to consistency just thinner than honey (100°), making sure it is completely smooth.  If it begins to separate, reheat and whisk again until smooth.  Pour or spoon glaze over the entire cake, guiding the glaze at the bottom with the offset spatula.  Carefully press marzipan stem over the cake stem and refrigerate 30 minutes.  Reserve 1/4 cup of the excess glaze for spiders (optional).
  4. Transfer yellow glazes into separate pastry bags, each fitted with a #2 round tip.  Using a utility or paring knife, cut jack-o'-lantern face onto one side of the cake, about 3/4 inch deep.  Carefully remove the cut-out cake pieces.  Pipe darker-yellow glaze on the inside of the cut-out face.  Pipe the lighter-yellow glaze along the trimmed edges.  Using a wooden skewer, gently press against the lighter glaze, and then pull out.  Repeat at slight intervals to create zigzag lines for a realistic "carved" look (shown above).
  5. For the spiders, stir together cocoa powder and reserved 1/4 cup glaze until combined.  Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon milk to thin the glaze.  Spoon glaze into a pastry bag fitted with a #2 round tip.  Pipe a trail of spiders along one side of cake, if desired.

Jack-o'-lantern Pumpkin Cake and Monster Cookies

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies are very appropriate this time of year, because it’s nice to have the combination of flavors of pumpkin, spice and chocolate, all in one bite.  The cookies can be savored with a cup of coffee, a glass of cold milk or a warm cup of tea.  Don’t hesitate for one moment to try a batch of my cookies this season, because they are exceptionally good.

Soft, cakey and irresistibly tasty, I have a feeling that you won’t be able to eat just one of these sweet morsels.  The spiciness of a rich pumpkin bread and the unmistakable flavor of a good chocolate chip cookie will have you making this recipe several times throughout the season.  The only problem that I can think of is that the tender cookies stick to one another when transferred into cookie jars, but a few pieces of parchment paper between cookies will keep them from fastening onto one another.  

Whether you make your own pumpkin puree using those delicious sugar pumpkins from the farmers market or you use a good-quality canned pumpkin, make sure that your spices and baking soda are fresh.  If you notice that your spices are off or are lacking in aroma, go to the store and restock these essentials.

Get baking!

For a printable recipe, click here.

  • 2-3/4 cups (355 g.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml.) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml.) grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml.) ground cloves
  • 2 sticks or 16 tbsp (226 g.) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml.) fine sea salt
  • 1 cup packed (215 g.) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g.) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml.) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (225 g.) canned pumpkin puree, not pie filling
  • 1 cup (170 g.) mini semisweet chocolate chips

Yield: approximately 30 cookies, 3-1/2” in diameter.
Equipment: 2” ice cream scoop, baking sheets, parchment paper or silpats.

Center oven racks and preheat to: 375° F (191°C)
  1. In a bowl, whisk to combine the all-purpose flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl add the melted butter, sea salt, light brown sugar and granulated sugar.  With a whisk, cream the ingredients for 1 minute, until the mixture is lightened and thick.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine and emulsify the butter/sugar mixture.
  4. Add the vanilla extract and the pumpkin puree.  Use a spatula to combine the ingredients.  NOTE: the mixture will become grainy, but that is normal.
  5. Add all of the dry ingredients and semisweet mini chips.  Combine with the spatula until all of the flour is absorbed into the dough.  Let dough rest for 5 minutes before portioning.
  6. Using the 2” ice cream scoop, drop 6 cookie dough portions onto half-sheets, spacing 2” apart.
  7. Bake at 375° F (191°C) for approximately 11-13 minutes.
  8. Let cool and devour!
One of my caramel cake stands by L.E. Smith Glass holds some cookies.  

The tea set is Wedgwood drabware.
As I said, these cookies are soft and quite tender.  They are not crisp or chewy like most chocolate chip cookies, but nonetheless, they are extremely tempting.  Lay out a baker's dozen on one of your cake stands if you are having company over for a relaxing weekend lunch, set out the teapots and teacups, and let guests take as many as they want.  Be warned: you better have a tray of them nearby to replenish!

With a few pantry basics you can easily whip up a batch of my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies for your family, coworkers and friends in no time at all.  If you plan on packaging them up in boxes or cellophane bags for gift-giving, I strongly urge you to use cut-out parchment rounds or squares in between each cookie to keep them from sticking to one another.  Either way, make sure you make several batches of this recipe.  I think you're going to like this combination.  Bon appetit!