Friday, October 26, 2012

One Cookie To Rule The Fall

I cannot begin to describe the shame I feel I have brought myself. My disappointment Is the size of Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Why? You know why. Don't sit there and act like you haven't been shaking your head at me for weeks. Look at me, here, with this food blog, and I have not posted one thing... not one thing about fall yet. It's practically November and here I am talking to you about garlic bread and spaghetti!!

No, there is no excuse. 

Ok, maybe. I've kinda been moving into a house. And if you know what moving entails then you're already nodding your head in agreement.

But other than that, NO EXCUSE! 

When my son goes to school in a few years the kids will tease him and call him names because of my shameful act. I feel terrible, I really do. Tell me, what can I do to make it up to you?

Would a couple of posts in a row of nothing but enticing, fall inspired sweets put me back on your good side? Will all this be put behind us, forgiven and forgotten, like nothing ever happened, and then we can move on? 

Maybe? Ok, that's a start. Here, maybe this will help...

Pumpkin Pie Cookies

Ah... Look at your eyes open up. A little smile creeping on. Yeah, go ahead, shake it off, it's ok. I'll pretend like I didn't see it. I'll just go on...

Albert Restaino, friend of mine from twitter dubbed this The Year of the Pumpkin. And he's right, it does feel like it's everywhere this year more than others. The flavor, the scent, the spice.. He's right, and I'm surprised there's not a clothing line of some sort. But it's as if everybody everywhere is head over heels in love with everything pumpkin. I know Tyler Durden is somewhere shaking his head about it, calling it a fad, and I usually agree with him. But I just can't this time. Fall can give you all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings, and for good reason. If you recall, since moving to North Carolina, I have found myself a total fanboy of the seasons. Fall was one of my favorites to begin with. Tied, if not, slightly ahead of winter. But being here, seeing the trees change colors, the crisp air come in, I swear I sequel like a little girl every day.

But there's no fad when it comes to Pumpkin Pie. No line of hipsters waiting for a slice of it outside a coffee shop on a brisk October morning. Nope, Pumpkin Pie has been around for a long time. Recipes have been handed down for generations, your grandparents can remember eating it as kids, you get the idea. It's a fall staple and an OG in the pumpkin game.

So when I was trying to figure out what my first fall post should be about, Pumpkin Pie stood out to me. It's the epitome of fall. But at the same time I wanted to do something small, something easily consumed for get togethers. So when I was introduced to this recipe by Annemarie Zaitz on Google+, it was perfect timing. It's called a cookie, but it can also pass as a mini pie. I'm sorry if at any point in this post your mind explodes.

Ha, no I'm not:

Pumpkin Pie Cookies: (adapted from Here)

Cookie base/topping:
                    1 1/4 cup ~ Flour
              1/2 teaspoon ~ Baking Soda
              1/4 teaspoon ~ Baking Powder
                          1 cup ~ Brown Sugar
                       1/4 cup ~ Sugar
              1/2 teaspoon ~ Pumpkin Pie Spice
                       1/4 cup ~ Cold Butter
                     4 ounces ~ Cold Cream Cheese

Pumpkin Filling:

                    4 ounces ~ Cream Cheese, softened
                 1 teaspoon ~ Vanilla Extract
              1 tablespoon ~ Sugar
             2 tablespoons ~ Brown Sugar
             2 tablespoons ~ Flour
             8 tablespoons ~ Canned Pumpkin
               1/2 teaspoon ~ Pumpkin Pie Spice
               1/4 teaspoon ~ Cinnamon
               1/8 teaspoon ~ Whole Nutmeg, freshly grated


  • I know what you're thinking. It sounds like a lot, but it's not. 
  • You're gonna need muffin pans so I hope you got em. I used regular and mini. From this recipe I was able to get a full pan of regular sized cookies and a full pan of mini cookies. 
  • DO NOT overmix the cookie base. Don't use your hands to mix it together because that's an easy way to overmix. Instead, use a fork and just smash, cut, and mix the butter/cream cheese with the dry ingredients. Take your time and you'll get a nice crumbly mixture.
  • Speaking of the crumbly mixture, if it starts to clump together and look like a dough, just forget it because that's the beginning of the end of the world.
  • Seriously, if it is more doughy than crumbly don't freak out. The crumbled look is for the topping, which can easily be replicated by just tearing up the dough into small bits and putting it on the top. It's not as easy as sprinkling crumbles, but it works.
  • If the dough is too sticky to press down into the pan, add a little more flour and mix. If it's fine but gets sticky halfway through then stop and wash your hands, nasty.

Alright, I hope you're ready for fall to sucker punch you in the freaking mouth:

  • Heat your oven to 350.

  • You're going to need two bowls. In the first bowl, add all the dry ingredients and mix them. You can use your toes to mix them, I don't care. I do care that you use a fork for the next part. Add the cold butter and cold cream cheese to the dry ingredients and use your fork to incorporate and "cut in" until you reach a crumbly state. Please don't overmix and destroy the world.

Why cold butter? I'm glad you asked!

The colder the butter and cream cheese, the better. When you're making a dough it'll usually call for cold butter to be cut in with a pastry blender or a fork. To be honest, in my 10 years of cooking, I have absolutely no idea what a pastry blender even looks like. But I've been using forks for like, ever. A couple of pulses in a food processor has been known to do the job too. You want something that will incorporate the cold butter with the dry ingredients in a way that won't cause the butter to be over mixed, and that won't melt the butter during the process. The cold temperature of the butter will keep it together and make it harder to be absorbed into the flour. This will not only give you more structure (like the crumble state we're looking for), but it will also assure the presence of at least a few chunks of butter in the dough. Whole clumps of butter in a dough, when baked, will provide pockets and give you a nice flaky crust. 

But that's more for pie-pie. We're making pie-cookies. We still need the crumble though, so I didn't drop that science for nothing.

  • Once you have a crumbly mixture, set it aside. In the second bowl add the softened cream cheese. If it's not softened, what's the matter with you? You knew you were making this and you knew it called for softened cream cheese. You should have left it out like an hour ago. smh. If it's not softened, which I have a feeling it's not, put it in the microwave for 10 seconds. You're looking for a whipped cream texture. Once it's ready, add everything else and mix

  • Take your regular sized muffin pan and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Work one pan at a time that way you don't grease up more than what you need. Grab about a tablespoon of the cookie mixture and press it down into the bottom of the muffin cups.

Pretend like you're making really small pies, it's the same concept. You don't want too much or you really will have small pies instead of cookies. A tablespoon or a little less gave me a fairly good size cookie. 

  • About a tablespoon worked for the pie filling as well. Spoon in the pie filling and make sure to not go over the edges. Keep it in the center of the dough. 

  • Next take some of the crumbly mixture and sprinkle it on top. I don't cover the whole thing, just 4 or 5 tiny pieces spread out over it. If you're a cinnamon freak like me, put a pinch of it to top it off.

  • Put it in the oven for 16-18 minutes, until the cookie is golden brown on the top and edges. Let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes then take a butter knife and slide it around the sides till they pop out

If you're going to make the cookies in the mini muffin pan: Do everything the same.. but smaller (mind=blown). Less pie filling and less dough for the base of the cookie, maybe about half a teaspoon. And bake it off for 10-12 minutes.

As you can see, a little addition you can do to these is add a few chocolate chips on top of the cookie before you add the pie filling. As it turns out, chocolate and pumpkin are not too shabby together.

And there it is! My first fall recipe! I hope it was worth the wait. I know other food bloggers are probably sick of fall by now. But you know what?

That's their own damn fault. No one told them to be crazy foodies with all that time on their hands.

Side Note: I don't know if you can tell, but I'm a little picture happy. You can thank all the natural light coming into the kitchen I have now. Sooooooooo much better than the dungeon I was cooking in before. Hopefully you'll see more pictures like this from now on. 

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