Soft Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

pumpkincookies

It is almost three weeks since the New Years’ “no more sugar” resolutions and that’s about long enough to go without some tasty bakery treats. The after the holidays pantry is always an assortment of odd holday and Christmas dinner leftover ingredients that I don’t want to save for a year and re use. I know canned goods are suposed to last for years but I am just not a fan of making dinner out of a three year old jumbo can of sweet potatoes. I checked out the far reaches of the pantry today and here were three of my favorite ingredients: Trader Joe’s  canned pumpkin, Ghirardelli mini chocolate chips, and Trader Joe’s candied walnuts, After checking out a couple of recipies online, I adapted one to fit what I had.

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The result is an amazing cookie – puffy, soft and cake-like. Amazing pumpkin flavor and the candied walnuts give it an interesting crunchy sweet texture. You can always skip the walnuts if you are not nuts about nuts…

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cups granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 can solid-pack pumpkin

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

1 1/2 cups semi sweet mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup candied walnuts

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugars, vegetable oil, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix on medium for about 1 minute. Add egg, mixing until just combined.

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until combined. Remove bowl from stand and fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts by hand.

Scoop by 1/8 cup onto prepared cookie sheets and place in oven to bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are firm and light brown in color. Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheets for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container or refrigerate.

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Ghirardelli Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are still my favorite Christmas cookie….and they couldn’t be any easier to make. The oatmeal makes them **a tiny bit** healthier than a lot of your Christmas favorites….

Berries and Cocoa

These are my all time favorite christmas cookie. My grandma made an amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, which I think was a variation of a recipe she found on a Quaker Oats box years ago. My favorite chocolate for baking is Ghirardelli (if I had to choose one…) They make 60% cacao bittersweet, semi sweet and milk chocolate chips. I use a mixture of the bittersweet and semi sweet in this recipe because I think it gives a more rounded flavor to the cookies. After I mix up a batch, I stick them in the refrigerator for an hour or so to chill the batter before using a medium cookie scoop to make a 2 inch round ball. The chilling and using the cookie scoop to scoop them out makes a perfectly puffed cookie with crispy browned edges and a chewy inside.

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I love these stoneware cookie sheets from the…

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Almond Chocolate Chip Scones

Chocscone

I work a lot of weekends – its the nature of working for a non profit. When I do have the weekend off, I love to make something savory for breakfast. My hubby makes amazing pumpkin pancakes, and I love to make french toast …but I was ready to try something different. I have been working on a chocolate chip scone recipe for a while – I experimented with several alterations until I addded some leftover Christmas cookie almonds to this last batch – I think this is the best version so far. The texture is dense and buttery, light and not too sweet. Perfect with a cup of coffee or tea and the Sunday morning paper….

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

2 eggs, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or real vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon half and half

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer or pastry blender, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in the bowl. Mix together until the batter resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped almonds. In a small bowl, mix one egg, vanilla, almond extract and half and half. Stir into the flour mixture, and mix until just blended, and dough leaves the side of the bowl. ImageRemove dough from bowl and divide in half. Shape each half into an 8 -9 inch by 1 inch disk, and place in plastic wrap. Chill 10 minutes in refrigerator. Using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, cut each disc into 8 triangles as shown (flour knife if it sticks between slices.) Image Brush each scone with remaining egg, whisked with one tablespoon half and half. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until scones are light golden brown. Makes 16 medium scones. Image

Ghirardelli Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are my all time favorite Christmas cookie. My grandma made an amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, which I think was a variation of a recipe she found on a Quaker Oats box years ago. My favorite chocolate for baking is Ghirardelli (if I had to choose one…) They make 60% cacao bittersweet, semi sweet and milk chocolate chips. I use a mixture of the bittersweet and semi sweet in this recipe because I think it gives a more rounded flavor to the cookies. After I mix up a batch, I stick them in the refrigerator for an hour or so to chill the batter before using a medium cookie scoop to make a 2 inch round ball. The chilling and using the cookie scoop to scoop them out makes a perfectly puffed cookie with crispy browned edges and a chewy inside.

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I love these stoneware cookie sheets from the Pampered Chef, but you can just use a regular cookie

sheet lined with parchment paper. Either way, I always bake a test cookie and adjust the batter as such: If they flatten out too much, add two teaspoons flour to the batter and mix well. If they are too thick, add a little milk or water.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, scooped and leveled

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Cream butter and sugars with mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy (approximately three minutes), scraping sides down often. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and add the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture on low speed, then add oats and combine thoroughly. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a cookie scoop, place rounded 2 inch balls of dough on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Place cookies approximately 2 inches apart and bake 12-14 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned on the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies set 5-10 minutes, then place cookies on wire rack to cool completely. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Grandma’s Almond Cinnamon Slices

This is one of those family recipes that I most closely associate with childhood and Christmas at my Grandma’s house. There were three staples in the Tupperware cookie containers that appeared every year and one or two that were “tryouts” to see if they made the grade with the family. There was one awful cookie that my grandfather loved that had dried candied fruit (think fruitcake in a cookie) but the rest were all wonderful. The oatmeal chocolate chip and these were and are still my favorites. I am currently working on a chocolate version of this and will pass it along once it is perfected.

Almondslices

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup butter, softened slightly

1 1/2 cups slivered almonds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 eggs

Combine flour and sugar in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender and combine thoroughly.. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into 2 1/2  inch long block and wrap in waxed paper. Chill overnight or freeze. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut slices crosswise in 1/8 thick slices. Place on un greased cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat mat. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool completely on wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

OPTIONAL: 

Grandma didn’t know about this alteration/update – but it is a really yummy addition if you want a little more kick:

Browned Butter Drizzle: In a small saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons butter over medium heat until butter turns light brown , stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and enough milk  to make drizzling consistency.

Double Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

Double Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

I love baking cookies! They make me think of parties, Christmas and hanging out with friends. (and buying some elastic waist pants, but that’s another blog ….)  These cookies are a great choice for your holiday cookie exchange. I use macadamia nuts (I use them in a lot of recipes, because they add such a crunchy sweet buttery flavor to everything.) I have always loved these little bites of paradise (or maybe they just remind me how much I love visiting Hawaii)  If you prefer, you can use walnuts or pecans.

Ingredients:

16 ounces semi sweet baking chocolate squares, divided

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop 8 ounces of the chocolate; set aside. Pour remaining chocolate in large microwave safe bowl and heat for 1-2 minutes, or until melted. Stir until smooth. Add sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and baking powder and mix thoroughly. Add chopped chocolate and nuts. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 11-14 minutes, or until cookies puff up and are set to the touch. Cool one minute, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Makes 18-20 large cookies.

Pumpkin Macadamia Cheesecake

pumpkincheesecake

I had an old recipe for pumpkin cheesecake that used a pre made graham cracker crumb pie tin (I told you it was old!) I did some experimenting and I came up with this easy and much tastier alternative: fresh graham cracker crumbs , butter and macadamia nuts. I added my latest favorite ingredient – Torani Caramel Sauce – and the results are amazing!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 large eggs

Torani Caramel Sauce (find it here: http://www.webstaurantstore.com)

fresh whipped cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in microwave, then stir in graham cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and macadamia nuts. Mix well, then then press firmly on bottom and 2 inches up sides of 9 inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, set on wire rack to cool.

In large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, at low speed until incorporated thoroughly . Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the mixture and stir gently until well blended. Spread batter over graham cracker crust. Bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes, or until center of cake is almost set. Allow to cool on wire rack, then refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours (overnight is even better.) Serve each slice with a drizzle of caramel and a dollop of whipped cream .