Don’t ask me what I was doing with a can of pumpkin when I’ve only just admitted to having almost more squash in my possession than Florida has early voters.
The can’s been in the pantry for roughly a year, skirting the back edges of the canned foods corner, an extra from some months-ago kitchen endeavor. (I think it was a risotto, one I’d planned to make twice, but, well, you know how that goes.) I’ve noticed the pumpkin now and again, while rooting around hopefully for a can of tuna or wondering when I used up the last of my San Marzano stash. All the while the can’s been hanging on standby, patiently getting pushed from one side to the other. I’d see it on the periphery and wonder when I’d feel like using it, when the temperature would dip low enough that pumpkin would be reasonable.
Well, the temperature (still 90s, sigh…) is hardly declaring pumpkin time, but the calendar says it’s perfectly acceptable – no, desirable, even – to use a little pumpkin. And not only to use it, but to let it be the main event, the raison d’être, of a baked good.
Pumpkin + turning on the oven = Fall. Fall = Happy. At least in my corner of the kitchen.
Allow me to get a little Cook’s Illustrated on you for a sec, as I explain the process behind these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. Most recipes I found use oil, but I didn’t want the texture to be too cakey. And I like — no, adore — what butter does to a cookie. I cobbled together a few recipes found at Cooks.com and AllRecipes.com (this one in particular), popped them in the oven, with a good result. But the texture was missing something.
Taking a hint from David Leite’s now famous delayed-gratification Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, I put the rest of the dough in the fridge for a few days. I think it was Shirley Corriher who said that allows the egg to spread out and coat the other ingredients, thus lending a different texture. And letting the dough ‘age’ gives it a more complex flavor, to boot. I thought the cookies that resulted from the refrigerated dough were better, both in texture and flavor.
Enjoy, and happy Halloween.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Play with this one a bit: I used butterscotch chips in half the batch. They’re also good topped a few flakes of sea salt just before baking.
2 ¼ C white whole wheat flour (or use all-purpose)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 C butter, softened
¾ C brown sugar
1 15-oz. pure pumpkin
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 C chopped walnuts (optional)
1 12-oz bag bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (if not refrigerating dough) and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating just until incorporated. Mix in the pumpkin and vanilla extract. Gradually stir or beat in the flour on a low setting until dough is smooth. Stir in walnuts, if using, and chocolate chips.
Place dough in fridge overnight or for up to 48 hours, or proceed with baking instructions. When you’re ready to bake, drop dough by 1 ½ tablespoons (or using a small cookie scoop) onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake until edges are golden but cookies are still soft on top, between 9 and 12 minutes (11 was just right in my oven).