Autumn is in full swing here in the Midwest, which for me means transitioning to heartier foods along with close-toed shoes and long sleeves. While I’ve been cooking with heartier ingredients I haven’t gotten around to doing much baking and recently found myself craving something pumpkin. What, I didn’t know. I just knew I had to use pumpkin.
So I went to the grocery store to buy a can of pureed pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin pie filling). I didn’t get anything to use with it because I had no clue what I wanted to make.
A few hours later I came across someone on Twitter (and I’m sorry, I have no idea who it was) who tweeted about pumpkin oatmeal. Hmmm… That sounds interesting, I thought. But I wanted to make dessert, not breakfast, which quickly lead to the idea of pumpkin-oatmeal cookies.
On the heels of the sad announcement that Gourmet was shutting down, I turned to the magazine’s website in a moment of nostalgia and searched for a recipe for pumpkin oatmeal cookies. Not surprisingly, nothing turned up, so I searched again, this time for a regular oatmeal cookie recipe that I could modify and found this one for oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I chose it mainly because I was intrigued by the instruction to grind a portion of the oatmeal into a powder, although I later adapted it to grind all the oats. The result is great: a slightly crisp cookie with a bit of chewy oatmeal texture.
In the end I subbed the pumpkin puree for the peanut butter, and changed the seasonings and add-ins to the fall flavors I was craving. There’s still a hint of dark chocolate in the recipe because I like the flavor contrast with the earthy pumpkin and tangy dried cranberries, but in no way is the chocolate the dominant ingredient. I recommend using shaved chocolate from a bar rather than chocolate chips because they’ll incorporate into the batter better.*
I’m calling these pumpkin surprise cookies because there are a lot of surprising flavors in every small cookie and including each in the title would be overwhelming: pumpkin-chocolate-oatmeal-cranberry-spiced cookies is a bit of a mouthful.
Here’s the recipe:
Pumpkin Surprise Cookies, makes 54 cookies
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
3 ounces (about 2/3 cup) chopped bittersweet chocolate*
2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or cover with a Silpat.
Pulse the oats in a food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer the ground oats to a bowl and mix with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside.
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for two minutes then add both sugars. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add the flour mixture in two batches, then mix in the chocolate and dried cranberries until well-combined.
Portion the cookies in heaping rounded tablespoons on the baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between each cookie. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Repeat until all cookies have been baked.
* I recommend using shaved or chopped chocolate from a bar rather than chocolate chips because they’ll incorporate into the batter better. Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I used Scharfen-Berger 70% bittersweet chocolate in this recipe which was given to me by the company. Feel free to use whatever brand you prefer, but I can honestly say that I enjoy the quality of this particular chocolate.