Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodle Cookies

Last Wednesday (November 4th) was National Stress Awareness Day (it was also National Candy Day…).  In a world filled with picture perfect Facebook, (insert social media of choice here), and Instagram posts, it’s easy to think that everyone else is living a fun, happy, stress-free life.  But the truth is, most of us deal with some amount of stress on a daily basis…some have just gotten better at hiding it.

National Stress Awareness Day comes at a perfect time.  Not only is it starting to get colder, but Daylight Savings kicks into effect robbing us of an extra hour of light everyday.  Cold and darkness can certainly exacerbate feelings of stress and depression.  Additionally, by November, I generally find that I have overcommitted to too many work projects and social engagements and need some time to myself.

Everyone has their own way to deal with this stress and for me, that comes in the form of cooking and baking (I recognize, though, that this may be stress inducing for others).  So last Wednesday, instead of going to spinning class, going out on a date, or working on a research project, I decided to just go home and cook, bake, and relax!

I had a craving for a pumpkin dessert and after logging onto Pinterest, these pumpkin cheesecake snickerdoodle cookies immediately caught my eye!  It is kinda hard to resist pumpkin and cheesecake all combined into one amazing cookie!

I will admit that these were a little more labor intensive than I initially anticipated.  The dough was a little sticky which made it a bit difficult to work with when assembling the cookies.  Perhaps I should have chilled the dough longer but patience is not my virtue…especially when pumpkin is involved!  The extra work was worth it though- the soft, pillowy, pumpkin spiced cookies did not last long at work the next day!  These cookies may not cure your stress, but they will certainly make it a little sweeter 🙂

Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodle Cookies

(Makes 24, from The Recipe Critic)

Cookies:
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly-ground ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cinnamon-sugar coating:
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of allspice

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Set aside.

In a stand-mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugars on medium high speed until fluffy about 2-3 minutes.  Blend in pumpkin puree, beat in egg and then add vanilla. Slowly add dry ingredients on low speed just until combined. Cover and chill dough for an hour.

To make the cream cheese filling, blend cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together. Chill for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and spices for the coating and set aside.

To make the cookies, take a tablespoon of the cookie batter. Flatten it like a pancake and place a teaspoon of the cream cheese in center. Form another tablespoon of the cookie batter into a flat pancake shape and place on top of the cream cheese. Pinch the edges together sealing in the cream cheese and roll into a ball. Roll in the cinnamon sugar coating and place on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.

Repeat until the dough is gone and flatten the cookie dough balls with a heavy bottomed glass or measuring cup.  Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes or until the tops start to crack. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Crumb Bars

It’s pumpkin season!  I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, when fall comes around I just want to go crazy with making everything pumpkin!

I made these delicious bars a few weeks ago (along with some butternut squash gnocchi that were not quite blog-worthy) and wanted to post them in time for Thanksgiving.  There are super easy and quick to make and so good that I’ve actually made them twice in the past month!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Crumb Bars

(from Cooking Classy)

For the Oatmeal Crumb:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups quick oats
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups canned pumpkin
⅓ cup evaporated milk (I’ve substituted cream or whole milk)

DIRECTIONS:

Make the Oatmeal Crumb: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust oven racks to center and upper-middle positions. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the sides; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt to combine. Add both the granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until no clumps remain. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, then stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened. Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.

Make the Pumpkin Pie Filling: Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Finally, whisk in the pumpkin, and then the evaporated milk until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.

When the crust has finished baking, pour the pumpkin pie filling over the bottom crust and return it to the center rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven, pinch the remaining oatmeal crumb mixture into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin pie filling. Return the pan to the oven, placing it on the upper-middle rack, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until it is golden on top and the center only jiggles slightly.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, at least 1 to 2 hours. Then, transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

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Although we were spoiled with sunny spring-like weather earlier this month, fall is definitely upon us now with temperatures reaching the 30s this week in Boston! Brrrrrrr!  Out come the fleece jackets, cozy sweaters and boots (I even wanted gloves last night!).  The leaves continue to change colors painting the landscape with beautiful yellows, oranges, and reds.  Halloween approaches and carved pumpkins and gourds begin to dot the sidewalks and windowsills.   And with all of this, comes the delicious and hearty flavors of fall:  apples, pears, butternut squash, brussel sprouts and of course pumpkin!

Pumpkin is definitely a seasonal ingredient and I must admit that I tend to overdose on it a little bit every fall: pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin beer, and pumpkin whoopie pies.  There is just something about it that is warming to the heart (and belly).  Last weekend, I decided to bake a pumpkin bread that I could bring in to work for our team to eat after rounds.  This recipe is another twist on my apple cinnamon chip bread recipe with pureed pumpkin substituted for the apples and chocolate chips instead of cinnamon chips.  I also had some leftover streusel topping from making apple crisp so I decided to throw that on top for extra layer of flavor and texture.  The result was a delicious, moist pumpkin and cinnamon flavored bread dotted with little morsels of chocolate, finished with a sweet, buttery crunch.  While the streusel topping is an additional step and is purely optional, it definitely makes this recipe extra special and will have everyone coming back for seconds!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread (makes 2 loaves, may half for one loaf)

1 stick (½  cup)  unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix!)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
2 pinches of ground nutmeg
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or more to taste)

Streusel topping (optional, but delicious)- adapated from Barefoot Contessa

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350º F.  Grease 2 loaf pans.

Prepare the streusel topping if making by pulsing all ingredients in a food processor until mixture resembles peas.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, white sugar and brown sugar.  Mix until mixture is smooth.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add pumpkin puree and mix until well-combined.

In a separate bowl, combine cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually fold into the pumpkin mixture until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pans and top with streusel topping (if using).  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly.  Let cool slightly before serving.

 

Brown Butter Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Frosting

Fall is finally here!  After a weird week of 90 degree September weather earlier this month, temperatures have finally dropped to more fall-like temperatures and the leaves look like they are just about to start turning colors.  And with the temperature change comes a whole new season of produce: apples, squashes, and of course pumpkin!  In celebration of my favorite time of year, I decided to make a pumpkin dessert. 

In browsing online for recipes, the first that caught my eye was brown butter pumpkin cupcakes with salted caramel frosting.  However, given that I make a lot of cupcakes, I decided to switch things up a little and make a similar flavored whoopie pie.  I had made these pumpkin whoopie pies with maple cream cheese frosting in the past, but decided to substiture salted caramel frosting for the maple cream cheese frosting.  In addition, after the success of my brown butter nutella cookies last post, I substitured 1 cup of brown butter for the canola oil in the original recipe which I felt really made a difference. 

I will admit that these did not quite go as smoothly as I had planned.  Note to self: Do not attempt to take pictures while making caramel (regardless of how badly you want photos for your blog).  The caramel requires a lot of attention and may develop a slightly burnt flavor, as mine did, if you attempt this.  I was a little worried that I had ruined it but luckily the extra sugar added in making the frosting mellows out the burnt flavor.  I then almost ruined the whoopie pies again when I realized last second that I had bought canned pumpkin pie mix (with sugar and spices already mixed in) instead of regular canned pumpkin.  Luckily a speedy trip to my local Whole Foods to buy overly priced organic pumpkin puree (is it me of do they always seem to run out of the regular product but never the more expensive organic version?) remedied this.  Despite the near failure and the extra trip to Whole Foods, the end result was delicious!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Frosting

For the Pumpkin Cookies (adapated from Brown Eyed Baker):

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup brown butter (see Nutella Stuffed Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies for instructions to make brown butter)
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Salted Caramel Frosting (from two peas & their pod):

Salted Caramel Sauce:
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes

Frosting:
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup salted caramel sauce
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the brown butter together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.

While the cookies are cooling, make the salted caramel frosting. First, make the salted caramel sauce. Make sure you have all of the ingredients ready. Once you start the caramel sauce you have to pay close attention so you don’t burn it. To begin, heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. The sugar will clump up, but keep whisking. It will continue to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.

Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Make sure you watch the pan very closely. This is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 350 degrees F. If you are new to making caramel, I suggest using a thermometer.


 As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted.  Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes.  Let the caramel sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Pour the caramel into a large mason jar and cool to room temperature.  Note: makes about 2 cups of caramel so you;ll have leftovers!

 To make the frosting: beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar and salt, and mix until completely incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and then add the salted caramel sauce. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.

Once pumpkin cookies are cooled, turn half of the cookies upside down. Pipe or spoon the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.