Thursday, November 20, 2008

Off to the pumpkin patch…

What up y’all…

Fall has fallen upon us… like a cold, windy, dreary brick… but never fret, what Mother Nature taketh away in terms of weather, she giveth back with a bounty of tasty fall produce! Heh heh I’m corny…

I have a few staple meals that I make a lot in the fall: butternut squash soup, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted vegetable soup, Asian yams… This fall I decided I should branch out a little bit more and try cooking with fresh pumpkin.

This fall was only my second time cooking with fresh pumpkin… much to the chagrin of my friends, and pumpkin connoisseurs, Janet and Curtis. The first time I cooked pumpkin was last year. I tried to roast some pumpkin and add it to my roasted vegetable soup…. Unfortunately I used a carving pumpkin... Carving pumpkins are not for eating... they have no taste, a really thick flesh, and are just all together nasty... The picture demonstrates how I felt about eating pumpkin after my first experience.



I think I mentioned my disdain for fresh pumpkin to Janet ‘I love pumpkins!’ Tang and she quickly schooled me on pumpkin types that were more suitable for cooking. Instead of buying the mammoth carving pumpkins, she told me to try the smaller pumpkin varieties because they have a sweeter flesh and are better for baking. I also learned that the “pumpkin” in canned pumpkin is actually not pumpkin! Canned pumpkin puree is usually made from one or more kinds of winter squash like butternut, Hubbard, or Boston Marrow, which are less stringy, sweeter and have a richer orange color…. But before anyone tries to get their money back from Libby’s for false advertising, there’s a pretty fuzzy line between what is called a pumpkin and what is called squash… so just calm down and enjoy them…

ANYWAY I digress… So I went out and picked up a little sugar pumpkin to make cookies with. Cooking with pumpkin, just like cooking with fresh butternut squash, is pretty labor intensive. You have to first roast the pumpkin, then scrape out the flesh and then puree the flesh. You use the puree the same way you would use the canned pumpkin. Janet had warned me about the pumpkin puree being more watery than the pumpkin puree you get in the can, and the excess water may affect the texture of the cookies. Fortunately I’m pretty lazy and let the roasted pumpkin sit in my fridge for a few days before I pureed it. By that time the flesh had dried out considerably and wasn’t watery at all.


One of the things that I noticed when looking up cookie recipes is that most pumpkin cookies call for oil or shortening instead of butter…. I just couldn’t write my brain around cookies made with shortening or oil, so I found this Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on the foodtv.com that used butter only. The recipe called for chocolate chips, but I liked Janet’s suggestion of using butterscotch chips, so I used those instead. The batter for the cookies was REALLY runny and more like cake batter than cookie batter. The cookies baked up to be really soft as well, but they were tasty... it was just hard to keep them from sticking together.

The recipe called for a few spices, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves, but I couldn’t really taste the spices too distinctly in the cookie. I took the cookies to my friends birthday party and people seemed to like them. Someone even asked me for the recipe. I made another batch of cookies for my friend, and fellow pumpkin lover, Curtis. He had been at my house when I was making the first batch and was mad that I only gave him one. He had mentioned that the ginger was a bit strong in the first batch so I cut the ginger down in this batch and upped the nutmeg a bit. He seemed to like them better that way, but I honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

All in all I give the cookies a solid B. They were a little soft for my liking... I like my cookies to be chewy on the inside with a bit of a crisp crust. I think they would make REALLY great muffins with a little recipe tweaking... maybe with a nice crumbly struedal topping... Oh well... I honestly don't know if I'd make these again for myself but other people seemed to enjoy them. Maybe I'll try one of the ones that use oil or shortening? Maybe the stability of the shortning will produce a denser cookie? I'll keep ya'll posted b/c I KNOW you're just as interested in this as I am. :-p

1 comment:

Janet said...

I wish I could have tried those cookies. They sounded delicious. Pumpkin is so tasty!