During the fall and winter seasons, pumpkins often make an appearance from the maniacal face carved into them for Halloween; to the slice of pie decorating a dessert plate at a holiday meal. While the Jack o’ Lantern pumpkin might be perfect for carving and placing a candle inside; the seeds roasted and salted for a snack; for baking and cooking, not so much. When the Pilgrims first settled the eastern coast of North America, they learned from the Natives living here that Crooked Neck pumpkins were best, not just in storage, but for eating. A meaty interior without all the stringiness those hollow Jacks have; and I can attest to this. While living in Lancaster, PA; every fall was a trek to the Amish markets to find the largest Crooked Necks we could find. One huge catch was two - 35 pounders which gave us many a bread, pie and canned pumpkin for later use. Then again, there was that 50 pounder that measured about five feet long, and took two of us to carry; we were certainly a sight to see that day.
Out of curiosity, I tried looking up pumpkin cookbooks; 14 on the first page of Amazon.com alone! Who doesn’t have a family recipe for pumpkin pie passed down from generation to generation? Nutrition wise, they are low in calories, fat, sodium and carbohydrates; high in potassium, vitamin A and C; add a little spice and they taste so good. There are many varieties of pumpkin, besides the Crooked Neck, that are prized for their meat: Baby Pam, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, New England Pie Pumpkin, Lumina (which are white), Cinderella, and Fairy Tale. Ready for this, besides pie, you can create bread, muffins, cake, cookies, soup and side dishes (roasted with onions, potatoes and garlic for example). Pumpkin is showing up in cocktails; and who hasn’t heard of pumpkin spice coffee, tea, hot chocolate and creamers? You don’t even have to wait any longer till fall harvest; canned pumpkin is available as pure pumpkin, or processed for pie filling. Let me add a small word of caution on this; canned pure pumpkin is just that…pure cooked pumpkin. Pie filling goes through a different processing and has many added ingredients, so anyone allergic to pumpkin can ingest this type, not the pure.
So, am I going to share a pumpkin pie recipe with you? Oh come now, I love to play with food, so the typical shouldn’t be expected from me. Instead I’m giving you my recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies; I bet you’re drooling already. This is a cake like cookie with the dough being quite moist; I recommend using a small ice cream scoop for portioning it out on the cookie sheets. While baking, it will not spread out much, so if you want a uniform, flatter cookie; use the rounded side of the scoop, or a spoon, to flatten it out to your desired appearance.
Living, Laughter and Love should be a year round mantra, not just in the holiday season. Perhaps nibbling on a pumpkin treat now and then will help remind us all of this. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
1 (15 oz.) can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. milk
1 and 1/2 cups Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 375F; line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease; Airbake sheets work well (do not need paper or grease).
In a large mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. In a smaller bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the milk; add both of these mixtures to the pumpkin mixture; mixing well. Add chocolate chips and nuts; gently combine to not break up chips or nuts.
Drop by tablespoonful on cookie sheets; bake for approximately 13 - 15 minutes, or until lightly brown and firm.
Makes 3 dozen.