Donuts and cider – what a gloriously autumnal food combination. Just thinking about eating fresh cake donuts, washed down with sweet, pungently spicy cider makes me want to put on a sweater and jump in a pile of leaves. It’s a little hard to explain, but somehow these soft and spicy pumpkin cookies give me that donuts and cider vibe, only better. Like if I’d known about these first, donuts and cider would give me that soft and spicy pumpkin cookies vibe. These cookies have been my favorite way to welcome fall into my kitchen for years, and if you try them I’m pretty sure they’ll become favorites of yours, too.
All Things In Moderation, Including Moderation
Those words of wisdom come from one of my favorite cooking personalities, the gorgeous gourmand herself, Nigella Lawson. Unlike Nigella, I strive to make food as healthy as I can most of the time, but once in a while I heed her advice and have a little splurge, and making these cookies with chocolate chips is a wonderfully satisfying splurge.
The first time I read a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, I was entirely skeptical. I couldn’t imagine pumpkin and chocolate tasting good together, but I went ahead and made them anyway – and I am so glad I did. The soft, spicy pumpkin cookie base partners perfectly with sweet, rich morsels of chocolate. It’s an incredibly delicious combination, and one of the few times I think it’s really worth it to opt for an ingredient you have to bump up your exercise routine to work off later. However, in the interest of healthy eating, I’ve made batches of these using half raisins and half chocolate chips, just raisins, and even plain ones, and they were all scrumptious.
The Splendor of Quantity
One of my favorite things about this recipe is it yields a ton of cookies. You could easily get 80 or 90 reasonably-sized cookies out of this if you scoop out the dough by the ubiquitous rounded teaspoon, which would be ideal if you’re serving a crowd. However, in keeping with the “all things in moderation, including moderation” theme, I like to make these cookies BIG. I use a small ice cream scoop to dollop out the dough, which makes the finished cookies look like large donut holes.
Even using my greedy scooping method, you’ll get more than 40 cookies per batch, and that’s a lot of cookie love. With that many cookies, there’s no excuse not to share, and I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t find these cookies irresistible. Take some into the office, give a dozen to the neighbors, pack up a few for friends, and feel great about it, knowing you have plenty stashed away for yourself. Be prepared for lots of smiles, thanks and glowing compliments – never a bad thing, right?
Soft and Spicy Pumpkin Cookies With Chocolate Chips or Raisins (or both)
2 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups Stevia In The Raw
1/2 cup brown sugar (see note below)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 banana, mashed, or 2 “eggs” made with Ener-G Egg Replacer, or 2 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons salt or salt substitute
1 – 2 cups dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips (or any smei-sweet chocolate chips, if you’re not vegan) OR 1 – 2 cups raisins OR use half raisins and half chocolate chips
If you’re using raisins, it’s helpful to toss them with a few pinches of flour (and a pinch of cinnamon, if you’re fancy) before you add them to the dough. This keeps them from sticking and clumping together, and you can work them in evenly. I use this little trick any time I’m baking with dried fruit.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or put a silicon liner on a cookie sheet and set it aside.
In a large bowl, use a mixer to combine the pumpkin, Stevia In The Raw, brown sugar, oils, applesauce, and banana (or “eggs,” or eggs). Stir in the vanilla.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients except the chips/raisins in a medium bowl, and gradually stir the mixture into the wet ingredients. Work in the chips/raisins – the dough is stiff, so I use my hands to sort of knead them in. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons or big ol’ scoops onto the cookie sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned. Repeat as necessary.
Note: if you want to make these cookies with no added sugar, omit the brown sugar and add another 1/2 cup of Stevia In The Raw. They won’t be quite as moist and tender, but they’ll still be delicious. You’ll also probably want to forgo the chocolate chips and reduce the raisins to one cup, or not include them at all. I’ve made these totally plain and sugar free, and they were still addictive.