Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

I am almost out of time to post these festive fall cookies! :/ It is technically still fall until December 21st…

I made these cookies along with Vanilla Halloween Cupcakes for my kids and their friends on Halloween… yes- that was quite a while ago! I doubled the recipe below and it was perfect for a crowd, making 37 cookies.

The recipe was adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I used an entire 15 ounce can of pumpkin purée for the double batch. I blotted it on (MANY MANY) paper towels prior to weighing it.

Yield: 18 cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons (86g) blotted/dried pumpkin purée (see below)
  • 1 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating (you will have extra):

  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Blot the pumpkin purée on paper towels, or squeeze in paper towels, changing the towels frequently, until it is quite dry. Set aside. (Squeeze as much of the moisture out of the pumpkin puree as you can before adding it to the cookie dough. This will help produce a less cakey cookie. Less moisture is a good thing here! Weigh (or measure 6 T) AFTER the pumpkin has been squeezed/blotted. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.)
  2. Whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl until no brown sugar lumps remain.
  3. Whisk in the vanilla and blotted pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and remaining spices together in a large bowl.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft.
  6. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Chilling the dough is a must for this recipe. (If doubling the recipe, chill the dough for 45 minutes.)
  7. Remove dough from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). (I set my oven to true convection.) Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  8. Using a cookie scoop, ration the dough, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough per cookie, and roll each into balls.
  9. Mix the coating ingredients together, and then roll each cookie dough ball generously in the cinnamon-sugar coating.
  10. Arrange cookie dough balls 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using the back of a spoon or the bottom of a cup/measuring cup, slightly flatten the tops of the dough balls. (Without doing so, the cookies may not spread.)
  11. Bake for 10 minutes on convection, or up to 11–12 minutes in a standard oven, or until the edges appear set. The cookies will look very soft in the center.
  12. Remove from the oven. If you find that your cookies didn’t spread much at all, flatten them out gently with the back of a spoon when you take them out of the oven.
  13. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The longer the cookies cool, the better they taste! The flavor gets stronger and the texture becomes chewier. (The original recipe notes that she usually lets them sit, uncovered, for several hours before serving.) Chewiness and pumpkin flavor are even stronger on day 2.
  14. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

To Make Ahead (& Freeze):

You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Baked cookies freeze well up to 3 months. You can also freeze the cookie dough balls for up to 3 months before baking. It’s best to freeze them without the cinnamon-sugar coating. When you are ready to bake, remove the dough balls from the freezer, let sit for 30 minutes, preheat the oven, and then roll in the cinnamon-sugar topping.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple cider doughnuts are one of my favorite autumn treats. A tasty baked version reduces the guilt- a little bit. 😉 This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell.

I made mini-doughnuts and madeleines. I must say that we were surprised by how much we enjoyed the apple cider madeleines which were absolutely amazing with crispy edges. The batter could also be baked in a muffin pan.

Yield: 12 mini-doughnuts and 8 madeleines (or 12 muffins)

For the Batter:

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cup/225 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 T (140 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup/165 grams light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters apple cider

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 T unsalted butter

To Make the Doughnuts & Madeleines: (or Muffins)

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly grease 2 (6-cavity) doughnut pans and 8 wells of a madeleine pan (or a 12-cup muffin tin) with nonstick spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 10 tablespoons/140 grams butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated after each addition, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  6. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  7. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  8. With the mixer running, add the apple cider in a slow, steady stream and mix to combine.
  9. Scrape the bowl well to make sure the batter is homogeneous.
  10. Spoon the batter into prepared doughnut pans, filling them about 2/3 of the way. (I use a small cookie scoop and fill each well with 3 scoops. You can also do this using a disposable piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with a 1/2-inch opening cut from one corner.) Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  11. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the thickest portion comes out clean, about 7 to 9 minutes on convection. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. (If you are making muffins, divide batter evenly between the prepared cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.)
  12. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, if making madeleines. (I reduced the oven temperature because my pan has a dark finish.)
  13. Using a small cookie scoop, fill each well with 3 scoops, or until 2/3 full. Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  14. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 9 minutes on convection.

To Make the Topping:

  1. While the doughnuts bake, whisk 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together in a small bowl to combine.
  2. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in the microwave.
  3. Let the doughnuts cool for 5 minutes after baking, then unmold them from the pans.
  4. Brush with the melted butter and dredge them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still warm.
  5. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature.

Apple Cider Margarita

I have seen several versions of this seasonal cocktail but I’m not sure if I need to try another one. This one is festive and fabulous. I first tried it on Halloween and now plan to incorporate it into my Thanksgiving weekend menu. Perfect! 🙂

The recipe was adapted from thehealthfulideas.com, contributed by Veronika. I used gold tequila and added maple syrup.

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Rim:

  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A lime wedge

For the Margarita:

  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau 
  • 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, or more, to taste
  • 2 oz apple cider
  • 0.5 oz (1 T) pure maple syrup
  • small dash cinnamon, optional
  • 1-2 dashes orange bitters
  • ice cubes
  • apple and/or lime slices, for garnish, optional

To Make the Rim:

  1. Combine the turbinado sugar and cinnamon on a small plate.
  2. Run a lime wedge around the rim of your glass and dip it in the sugar. Set aside.

To Make the Margarita:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add a handful of ice, and shake for 10-15 seconds until it’s very cold to touch. 
  2. Pour into a margarita glass (or another glass of choice) over ice.
  3. Garnish with an apple and/or lime slice, if desired, and enjoy!

Salted Caramel Apple Cookies

Wow. These cookies may be my new favorite autumn dessert. I knew that we would love them when they were described as if “a caramel apple and a snickerdoodle got together and created some seriously delicious magic.” 🙂

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kelly Janke. I used Kanzi apples. Apparently, any type of apple will work in these cookies.

The original recipe stresses the importance of cooking the apple caramel to the proper consistency. It was a little tricky, but the instructions were very helpful. All of the liquid from the apples is cooked down until it has evaporated, leaving behind a “tacky and pliable” caramel. This wonderful caramel is folded into the cookie dough to create swirls in the finished cookies- fabulous.

Yield: Makes 25 cookies

For the Apple Caramel:

  • 3 medium apples (about 1 1/2 lbs total), peeled, cored (I used 3 (1 lb 6 oz total) Kanzi apples)
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I used freshly ground cardamom, sifted)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the Dough & Assembly:

  • 3 1/2 cups (438 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup, packed (100 g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)

To Make the Apple Caramel:

  1. In a food processor with the grater attachment, coarsely grate apples (or use large holes of a box grater).
  2. Transfer grated apples to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze over a medium bowl to extract all the juice possible. (I just squeezed the grated apples with my clean hands!)
  3. Measure out 1/4 cup (4 T) apple juice and set aside (save any leftover apple juice for another use).
  4. Set grated apples aside (you should have about 2 1/2 cups).
  5. Bring sugar, cream of tartar, and reserved 1/4 cup (4 T) apple juice to a rapid boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring just to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring but swirling pan often, until bubbles slow and caramel turns a deep amber color, 5–7 minutes.
  6. Remove caramel from heat and stir in butter, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
  7. Set pan over medium-low heat and add reserved grated apples, stirring quickly to combine (don’t worry if the caramel mixture looks like it’s seizing at first). Cook apple caramel, stirring constantly, until it’s noticeably stickier, the liquid has evaporated, and it almost forms a ball as you stir, 10–14 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to continue cooking- if the caramel becomes too dry it will be more of a fruit leather when it cools.)
  8. Scrape apple caramel onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Let cool, at least 30 minutes.
  9. Set 1/4 cup apple caramel aside for topping cookies.

To Make the Dough, Assemble, & Bake:

  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°. (I used the true convection setting.)
  2. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a medium bowl to combine.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, starting on low speed, then increasing speed to medium, until combined, about 2 minutes total.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating thoroughly before adding the next, then add vanilla.
  5. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  6. Add apple caramel and pulse mixer two or three times to swirl caramel throughout dough or fold in caramel using a sturdy rubber spatula (take care not to overmix or else you’ll lose the swirled caramel effect as the cookies bake).
  7. Using a 3 T (#20) cookie scoop portion out 16 balls and divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing at least 2″ apart (you will have dough left over for a 2nd batch).
  8. Top each cookie with a few small pieces of reserved apple caramel and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  9. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until golden brown at the edges, 12 to 16 minutes.
  10. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheets then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  11. On cool cookie sheets, repeat process with remaining dough to make 8 (or 9) more cookies.

Do ahead: Cookies can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. (True! Still delicious the next day.)

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

In the fall, my daughter would love to eat some sort of “pumpkin spice” item every day to celebrate the season. 😉 She loved these cupcakes!

These super moist cupcakes were delicious but it was the maple-cream cheese frosting that really put them over the top. The frosting was fabulously creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from David Leite via smittenkitchen.com. I modified the method and used fine sea salt.

Yield: 18 cupcakes (with leftover frosting)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

For the Frosting:

  • Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) pure maple syrup
  • pinch fine sea salt

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Heat oven to 350° (175°C), preferably on convection. Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
  5. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.
  6. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the mixer, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
  8. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  9. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, rotating halfway through the baking time, about 19 to 20 minutes on convection or up to 20 to 25 minutes in a standard oven.
  10. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely before topping with the frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter to combine.
  2. Add all of the additional ingredients and continue to beat on medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Frost the tops of each cupcake, swirling decoratively. (I used a pastry bag and decorative piping tip.)
  4. Refrigerate cupcakes for 30 minutes to set up frosting prior to serving.

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Butternut Squash & Greens

My kids love the Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese from Trader Joe’s. (It sells out daily- so they are clearly not alone!) This vegetarian comfort food dish seemed reminiscent enough to be a crowd-pleaser. 😉 I liked that it incorporated leafy greens too.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I modified the method and proportions. I also added a poblano chile, red onion, garlic, and cilantro. Nice.

Yield: Serves 6

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 1 poblano chile, seeded, ribbed, and diced, divided (or 1 jalapeño, sliced into rounds)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeds removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound rigatoni, penne, or other tubular pasta
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano), divided
  • 4 packed cups greens (I used 2 cups turnip greens (sliced into 1-inch ribbons) and 2 cups baby spinach)
  • 8 oz (1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size chunks
  • 1/3 cup cilantro or flat-leaf parsley and tender stems, roughly chopped, for garnish
  1. Bring a large covered pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until not quite al dente, 3 to 4 minutes less than the package instructions. (It should be a little too firm to the bite.) Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water and drain. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet with high sides and a tight-fitting lid (or a Dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high until shimmering. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Add the diced onion and half of the diced poblano chile, season with salt, and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the cubed squash and season with salt, cumin, and red-pepper flakes. Cook, stirring every minute, until squash becomes browned in spots and feels just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection.)
  7. When the squash is just tender, add 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Bring to an active simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is soft and easily mashable, 10 to 12 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, then use the back of a wooden spoon to crush about half of the butternut squash and leave the rest chunky. Season the squash to taste, keeping in mind that salty Parmesan will be added soon.
  9. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet along with the remaining 1 cup of reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Stir vigorously to combine.
  10. Stir in the greens one handful at a time until each addition wilts slightly.
  11. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, the mozzarella, and the remaining diced poblano chile. Place in the oven and cook until the top is melted and browned in spots, 12 to 15 minutes.
  12. Top with minced cilantro and serve.

Shortcut Chicken & Dumplings

More weeknight comfort food! This dish uses rotisserie chicken meat and store-bought gnocchi as shortcuts to create a close match to traditional chicken and dumplings. It was quick to prepare and very tasty.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Alexa Weibel. I incorporated my CSA parsley, leeks, carrots, and collard greens. In addition, this soup could easily gobble up many other vegetables such as frozen peas, fennel, squash, parsnips, or mushrooms. We ate it with a green salad. Great.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 cups 1/2-inch ribbons of collard greens or kale, ribs removed (optional)
  • 2 medium carrots or 8 ounces butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed, white and pale green portion halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 cup) (can substitute 1 large shallot, if desired)
  • 2 medium celery stalks, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick (about 2/3 cup)
  • additional vegetables such as frozen peas, or diced parsnips, fennel, or mushrooms, optional
  • 3 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)(I omitted it)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (16 to 18-ounce) package fresh or shelf-stable store-bought gnocchi (I used Trader Joe’s 17.6-ounce gnocchi)
  • 1/2 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 to 3 cups shredded meat)
  • fresh tarragon, parsley or dill, for garnish

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