Friday, September 14, 2012

Perfect Chewy Not Cakey Pumpkin Spice Cookies

The leaves are just barely starting to change, heirloom pumpkins are for sale at the farmers' market, and perhaps the most definitive sign of the season, the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte has appeared. Autumn is my favorite season, and that's due, in no small part, to the food associated with cool nights and colorful leaves.

I love all things pumpkin, but for years - yes, years - I've been on the search for the perfect pumpkin spice cookie. I've made probably dozens of different recipes for pumpkin cookies, brownies, and bars... and they all have one thing in common: they're basically cake. I have nothing against cake, but when I want a cookie, cake's just not gonna do it.

This is what I learned: if you want chewy pumpkin flavor, you can't use plain ol' pumpkin puree. There's simply too much water in it, so whatever you make is going to be cakey. Think about when you make a cake - you add liquid; and when you make cookies, you don't. It's as simple as that.

Instead, you need to use Pumpkin Powder. Pumpkin powder is basically flour made from pumpkins, and since it's so concentrated, the flavor is really great. And it's totally worth it because drying and processing pumpkin into flour sounds like a big pain to me and sounds like a recipe for a broken food processor.

I also used baking powder instead of baking soda (alkaline) to help keep the orangey pumpkin color. If you're interested in baked goods color and chemistry, take a look at bittersweet blog.

Chewy Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. plus 1 T pumpkin powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 c. sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon *if you want snickerdoodles
1 12 oz bag chocolate chips *if you want chocolate chip cookies

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. In a large bowl, blend the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla, too. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture. If you're making chocolate chip pumpkin cookies, stir the chips in now. If you're making snickerdoodles, roll spoonfuls of cookie dough in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Drop the dough in rounded spoonfuls on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 375 for 12 minutes, plus or minus a minute or two, depending a on the size of your cookies.