Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tomorrow's the big day! The Super Bowl of all things food, an annual feast of the most grand proportions, a foodie's dream come true... that's right, folks, unless you've just landed from another planet, you know tomorrow is Thanksgiving!

While I'll admit to being a bit of a Christmas-crazy gal, myself (anyone else already watched "Elf" and listened to your favorite Christmas playlist?!), I don't believe there's any better way to kick off the holiday season than with an over-the-top Thanksgiving celebration. I love the holidays for the special time they offer with family and friends, and Thanksgiving is no exception. What better time to whip out your finest, most tried-and-true recipes than when you have a chance to really enjoy them over some great conversation and memorable laughs with those you love? Let me tell you, you don't want to miss out on these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. I didn't deem them "the best" for nothing!

Unlike your typical "cakey," fluffy pumpkin cookie, these babies are reminiscent of the beloved, classic chocolate chip cookie. Their soft, buttery and chewy texture make these pumpkin and chocolatey treats a Thanksgiving dream. I made my first test-run batch last week and enjoyed them so much that I considered leaving them off the official Thanksgiving menu for fear that I would eat too many of them! If that doesn't give you proper indication of just how delectable these cookies are, then I don't know what does! Whip up this heavenly recipe to share with your Thanksgiving clan this year, and I guarantee you'll soon find out the real reason why I'm calling these "The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!" 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy good family, good friends and exceptionally good food. :)

The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adapted from Picky Palate


1 stick/8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons molasses
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 10 ounce bag chocolate chips (I used Hershey's!)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, silpat liner or parchment paper.

2. Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses, pumpkin, egg and vanilla, beating until well combined.

3. Add flour, salt and baking soda, mixing to combine then add in chocolate chips. Using an ice cream scoop to place dough onto prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until baked through. Let cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to cooling rack. Enjoy!

Makes about two dozen cookies.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Apple Hand Pies

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays! And as those close to me know, the holidays are one of my most favorite times of year. Family, friends, food, festivities and fun all rolled into one? What could be better! 

However, I'm not sure if anyone else is feeling this way this year, but it appears that somehow I got up from my beach chair back in July and was instantly transported to November 14, only days before Thanksgiving! With the first snow already behind us (in New England, that is!), the holidays seem to be rushing onward with a vengeance and I'm starting to wish I had a remote control for life to sloooow thiiiings dooown. I love the holidays for the quality time they give us with the people we love, so, life, if you could kindly stop this whole barreling-through-the-holidays-in-a-blur-of-turkey-and-gingerbread-and-christmas-carols charade, then I think this special time of year would become much more enjoyable. :)

In the interest of savoring all of the flavors and experiences of the holidays, I'd highly recommend whipping up a batch of these delicious Apple Hand Pies. In addition to being just plain adorable, they're a fun way to switch up the traditional apple pie served every year for Thanksgiving. And, hey, they have major portion control benefits, too! That is, of course, if you can limit yourself to just one -- and that is easier said than done!

The recipe is both a cinch to put together and budget friendly because you can use Pillsbury's pre-made pie crust. If you're up for the challenge, you can always use your favorite homemade pie dough recipe, too. Either way, these pies are the perfect way to make your holiday guests feel right at home. Enjoy!

Apple Hand Pies

1 package Pillsbury pie crust
4 medium Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 egg, for egg wash
1 Tablespoon water for egg wash


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil.

2. Toss the apples, sugars, flour, lemon juice and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add room temperature butter (in small cubes) to apple mixture and combine thoroughly.

3. Unwrap one Pillsbury pie crust (keep other in the refrigerator until ready to use). Place pie crust on a lightly floured surface. Using a medium sized drinking glass (or any shape or size cutter of your liking!), cut out circles, re-rolling re-rolling scraps (if they start to get warm, refrigerate then roll in 15-20 minutes).

4. Whisk together egg and water. Brush dough circles with egg wash. Pile about 1/4 cup of apple mixture in the center of the circle, leaving a border around the edges. Place a second dough circle atop each filled circle then use a fork to crimp the edges together, sealing each pie.

5. Place hand pie on lined sheet pan, brush top with egg wash, and score with a knife if desired. Repeat to fill sheet pan, placing hand pies at least an inch apart.

6. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden. While first pan bakes, continue rolling, filling and sealing remaining dough.

7. After finished baking, allow to cool for 15 minutes and serve.

Makes about 24 pies.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Oreo Chunk Brownies

I just can't get enough of all of this fall baking fun! The pumpkin craze continues with these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Oreo Chunk Brownies. The marriage of pumpkin, cream cheese, Oreo cookies and brownies is simply divine and to boot, this recipe is super easy! To create this festive and sure-to-impress treat, just pick up a box of your favorite double chocolate brownie mix (I love the richness of Ghiradelli!), a can of pumpkin, a little cream cheese, a few Oreos, some brown sugar and cinnamon, and consider yourself in Pumpkin Cream Cheese Oreo Chunk Brownie heaven!

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With the holidays just around the corner, don't forget about this deliciously fun recipe that you can whip up in no time. After all, what's better than pumpkin AND chocolate?! 

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Oreo Chunk Brownies
Recipe adapted from Picky Palate

1 box of double chocolate brownie mix (plus ingredients that the mix requires)
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line an 8×8 inch baking dish with foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray (or, I used my beloved Wilton bar pan, without the foil).
Prepare double chocolate brownie mix according to the directions on the packaging. Transfer batter to prepared baking dish, spreading evenly.
Place cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl. Beat until creamy and smooth. Place dollops over brownie batter then take a knife and swirl pumpkin mixture through brownies. Top and gently press broken up pieces of Oreo Cookies into pumpkin layer. Bake for 40-50 minutes (or about half the time in a Wilton bar pan), until cooked through. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.
Makes 9-12 servings. Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

By now, I think we all know how I feel about cinnamon rolls. I did some fun (and delicious!) things with the concept here and here, and always seem to find myself adding cinnamon to my fall recipes however I can (like here and here)! Because, let's just be real, is there any more amazing and intoxicating smell than cinnamon and fall spices fresh from the oven? I certainly don't think so!

Typically, the only downside to such scrumptious treats is the amount of preparation and time it takes before you can finally sink your teeth into one! Don't get me wrong, sometimes you're in the mood to really put in the effort, but other times, life may get in the way. For those times when you're seriously craving one of these legendary breakfast goodies and can't imagine waiting hours to whip up the dough, consider picking up a bag of pre-made dough! I love Trader Joe's brand, and used a bag of their white pizza dough for this recipe. This can also be a more cost-effective option than purchasing all the ingredients to make homemade dough, as well. The cinnamon rolls will be ready in a snap, and trust me, you (and your taste testers!) will never notice a difference!

To spice up my standard cinnamon rolls, I added a seasonal kick of pumpkin to this recipe. If for no other reason, this recipe is worth making for its pure aromatic benefits! Your kitchen will smell of pumpkin spice and everything nice! Drizzle a bit of Maple Cream Cheese icing on these babies, and consider yourself in fall brunch heaven! They're too easy to pass up, so go whip up a batch for your next fall gathering today! Happy Baking!

Easy Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe adapted from The Ungourmet


For Cinnamon Rolls:
1 16-18 oz package of refrigerated pizza dough
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp room temperature butter
4 tbsp brown sugar

For Maple Cream Cheese Icing:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature


For Cinnamon Rolls:
Roll out dough into a 12x10 inch rectangle. Combine the pumpkin, spices, syrup and butter. Spread filling onto the rolled dough, leaving 1-inch on each side. Sprinkle brown sugar on top of pumpkin spice filling. 

Carefully roll dough jelly-roll style, starting at the long end (this will be a little messy!). Pinch seams on each end to seal. 

Use a sharp serrated knife to cut 12 1-inch slices. Place rolls into a greased 9 inch baking pan. Cover and place in a draft free area and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.

For Maple Cream Cheese Icing:
Place all ingredients in the bowl; beat until well combined. Be sure to beat on high speed for at least 2 minutes at the end to ensure that the frosting is light and fluffy. 

Once you've created the frosting (which keeps very well over time in the refrigerator!), spoon out about 1 to 1 1/2 cups and warm in the microwave for about 10 seconds (or until desired icing consistency). Drizzle onto cinnamon rolls while they are still warm and allow to set and harden for about 15-20 minutes.

Makes about 10-12 cinnamon rolls.


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