Saturday, October 18, 2008

pumpkin oatmeal cookies

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies (large)

Sometimes the business world is a rough-and-tumble place...and sometimes it is simply ridiculous. The nature of my position is such that, when an employee has a concern or suggestion, it usually finds its way to me. I'd love to tell you that most of these concerns are well founded, but that isn't quite the case...mostly because 50% of the concerns are born out of overworrying and and behaviors I would categorize as just short of hysterics. Case and point: There is an ongoing discussion in our office about the proper way to evacuate if there is a fire at the front of the office suite. Obviously I recognize that evacuation procedures are important, so I put in a request to the local fire department to have a marshal come out and make a recommendation. However, while I'm waiting for that person to show up, I have to deal with the third of our staff that is convinced that breaking the floor-to-ceiling windows and falling 25 feet onto concrete and glass shards is the best way to evacuate on the highly unlikely occasion that there is a fire in the front of our crackerjack-box-size office that has gone unnoticed long enough to prevent people from making a simple exit through the front door. I think Charles Darwin would have some interesting things to say about people who fail to notice a fire in 15' x 30' office. I won't bring that up, but when the fire department comes and explains why it's a bad idea to punch out a hole and feed a fire in a small space with loads of oxygen, all those glass-breaking tools ordered by the renegade third of the staff are going straight back to the supplier....

Fall's favorite flavor is arguably pumpkin, but you don't often see it in cookie form. The texture and consistency of pumpkin usually lends a cakiness to the baked goods that incorporate it, so when I saw Garrett's recipe for pumpkin cookies over at Simply Recipes, I was a bit skeptical. I'm not one for cakey cookies. However, I was in need of many dozens of autumnal treats for an upcoming meeting, so I decided to give the recipe a go. (Plus, I've been so busy with cupcakes lately that the cookie section of the blog was starting to look a little wimpy by comparison.)

I swapped out regular butter in Garrett's recipe for unsalted (and upped the salt) because I generally prefer it, and I cut the amount of pumpkin seeds in half because a full cup just seemed like too much in a recipe that also called for oats and currants. The cookies had a great pumpkin flavor, but my honest assessment on Day 1 was that I didn't like them. They were overly moist and cakey, with none of the delicious chew of a normal cookie. I was pretty sure that I could save them, though, so I left them uncovered -- for 2 days. And the result? Much better. Really good, in fact. The cookies retained their excellent flavor, but also developed that much-desired chewiness. Apparently age improves men, wine, and pumpkin cookies.

[This post submitted for Sugar High Friday's October challenge: Spices.]

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from a recipe by Garret McCord
Yields about 4 dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup dried currants

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin puree and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture in two additions and beat until combined. Fold in the pumpkin seeds and currants.

Using a 1.5" - 1.75" scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Allow to cool on the sheet for a minute or two to set, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store, uncovered, between layers of parchment or wax paper for up to 5 days.

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