Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My first cookie experiment of the year: Pumpkin Crazin' Cookies

For those of you who do not already know, I give cookies as Christmas gifts every year, and have for about 10 years. The cookie-baking operation has evolved quite a bit since I began this gift-giving extravaganza. I think I started baking 3-4 varieties, and giving 6 of each variety in each gift box (and the gift boxes were handmade), and this past Christmas, I baked 7 varieties, with everyone getting at least 6 cookies of each variety. I also introduced the reusable gift bag this year, from Papermart. I like their selection of cello bags, and gift bags, but they tons of other packing and gift materials. And no, they haven't paid me for that.

Anyway, I have been baking pretty close to the same cookies for the past few years. This past year, I baked Chocolate Chip, Key Lime White Chocolate Chip, Mexican Double Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Crinkles, Great-Gramma's Anise Cookies, Snickerdoodles, and Peanut Blossoms. In years past, I have also baked Spritz cookies. These cookies have always gone over well, and I have never had anyone tell me that they didn't want cookies. In fact, most everyone says that it is the gift they most look forward to! But, sometimes the cookie varieties seem a bit heavy on the chocolate, something I am sensitive to since DramaMama can't eat much chocolate. So, I am taking some time before the Christmas baking madness to try some new cookies. This first experiment is hardly a new concept, but I did add my own twist to them. I found the Pumpkin Spice Cookie recipe by Teresa Heinz-Kerry several years ago, but had never tried them, fearing that my family would not like them because they had pumpkin. Years after I found that recipe, we were at lunch with friends from home, and one of my co-workers ordered Pumpkin-Cranberry Cheesecake for dessert. I LOVE pumpkin cheesecake, but don't really like cranberry sauce and when he allowed me to take a sample, I could not have been more pleasantly surprised at how good it was. The smooth, sweet and slightly spicy pumpkin cheesecake combined with the sweet and tangy cranberry sauce swirl was perfect together. I wished I had ordered my own! I thought more about the pumpkin/cranberry combo, and then it hit me! Pumpkin and Craisins! In a cookie! Genius!

But I was not brave enough to try it until last week. I finally decided to take the plunge, and printed the cookie recipe I had, and made my own changes to it. So here it is:

Pumpkin Crazin' Cookies

1 cup Butter-flavor Crisco shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 pumpkin pie spice (allspice could be substituted)
1 1/2 cup Craisins

Heat oven to 375°. Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, pumpkin and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, then mix into pumpkin mixture, until just mixed together. Stir in the Craisins.

Drop by tablespoonfuls* onto a well-greased** cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden on edges.

Makes about 60 cookies.

* I use a small-medium cookie scoop (or disher) for all of my drop cookies. If I can find out the size number of the scoop I used, I will note it here.
** I used Parchment paper, as I do with all cookie baking. It makes for a better cookie baking experience, as it reduces cleanup considerably, and I have never had a cookie stick to the parchment paper.

These were OK, but the cranberry flavor from the Craisins was not as pronounced as I would have liked. That may be because I was using some Craisins that have been around for a while, or maybe because they were sweetened, I'm not sure. I may try these again with fresher Craisins.

These were a moist, cakey cookie, and they have held up well in storage. They were not a great hit with the children, but the adults liked them. They did not spread much at all, and maintained much of the scoop shape.

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