Pumpkins Pumpkins Everywhere!


Yes, it’s that time of year–or really, it’s slightly after that time of year, since I couldn’t find a carving-sized pumpkin for love or money the night before Halloween, which is when I attempted to buy them.  But that meant I ended up with several smaller ones instead.
Now, growing up I had no idea you could do anything with a pumpkin except carve a face in it.  Later my ideas expanded to include using them decorations in one of those ubiquitous fall displays.  But at some point it occurred to me that the pumpkin in a can had to come from somewhere, right?  So I consulted The Joy of Cooking and learned how to roast a pumpkin.
The roasting is easy, the pureeing much less so.  It may not be worth it to those who like to do things the easy way, but once I learn how to do things the hard way (think rolling out pie crusts by hand) I find it hard to go back to my old, convenience-oriented ways!
Another thing I never knew you could do is roast and eat the seeds from your pumpkin.  Now that’s a Halloween night tradition for us.

All of this is a preface to this, my first-ever cooking post!  Since it’s my recipe, of course it won’t be easy.  It takes several preliminary steps to get to the tasty result, but you can skip the hard parts if you want.
Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients:

2.5 c. flour

1 t. baking soda

1 stick butter (PLEASE use real butter!)

1 c. sugar

.5 c. packed brown sugar

2 eggs

.5 c. roasted and pureed pumpkin

2 t. vanilla

.5 c. roasted and salted pumpkin seeds, chopped fine

1 12-oz. bag milk chocolate chips

You will want to do these first two preliminary parts the day before you want to make the cookies!  Or buy a can of pumpkin and a bag of seeds.  Just don’t tell me about it!
First, roast a pumpkin.  A small one is fine.  Here’s how you do it:
Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out its insides; reserve seeds.  No need to be too anal; I am lazy and leave a string or two behind and never have a problem.
Grease a cookie sheet (just a spray with Pam or its generic equivalent, if you are me, will do).
Place the two halves, cut side down, on your cookie sheet.
Cook at 350 degrees for about an hour.  You will know you are finished when the pumpkin halves start to collapse a little bit.
Remove from oven and let cool.  Peel off the skin and put the flesh away until you are ready to puree it.  You can freeze it for just about forever if you wish.
Now, attend to your seeds.  You should rinse them in a colander and dry them with paper towels.  The dryer you can get them the quicker they will roast.
Grease another cookie sheet and spread the seeds thereon.  The thinner you can spread them the shorter the roasting time will be.  Put them in a 200 degree oven.
Check the seeds every half hour or so.  At some point you will want to put some butter on them and some salt.  Stir them around when you check them.  You can add more butter and salt when you check them–that’s up to your taste.
Now I cannot tell you how long this is going to take, because it varies.  I cooked mine for probably four hours.  Anyway, when they are crunchy but not burned, remove them from the oven and put them aside.
When they are cool, chop them up in your food processor or blender.  Or you could use them whole; it’s up to your family’s taste.  Mine were more like meal than seeds when I was finished.
By now your pumpkin has cooled off–it’s had four hours after all–so you can puree it.  I imagine a food processor would make this easy but I don’t have one so I use a blender, which is hard.  I usually cheat and add a little liquid to make it easier.  This time I used eggnog for this, which gave it a nice flavor.  And you’ll be using beaters on it too, so if you get frustrated doing this remember it doesn’t have to be perfect.  Take out what you need for the recipe and put the rest away for another day.
Here comes the easier part.
Cream the butter and sugar.  The proportions are strange because we are replacing part of the fat with the pumpkin, so don’t worry if you can’t get it perfectly creamy.  I am a lazy cook on details like this and have found that seriously it doesn’t matter much, no matter what your mother told you.
Let your kids crack the eggs and then add them and beat again.  And the vanilla, then the soda, beating after each.  Next the pumpkin.  Then the flour.  Then stir in the nuts and the chips.

Isn’t it a pretty color?  The batter is not going to have the texture of a typical chocolate chip cookie because of the pumpkin.  Don’t worry; it will be okay.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Drop spoonfuls of batter on your cookie sheet.   These stuck to my dark cookie sheet but not the shiny one, so you might want to grease yours if they are dark.  These don’t spread much at all, so you can factor that in to how many you put on each sheet.
Cook each batch for ten minutes, maybe longer, till they are a little brown on top.  They are not going to be as brown as typical chocolate chip cookies.  And they are going to be a bit pouffy, so they are probably more done than you think they are.  More than twelve minutes is probably going to be too long.

I was pleased and proud and my family loved them!  Be sure to tell me if you make them!