Aside from hot apple cider and shuffling through dried leaves, I don’t think there are many things more autumn-y than pumpkin. I’ve eaten pumpkin cookies before but never made them, so this was an adventure. I was hoping that these cookies would be less cakey than most other pumpkin cookies I’d had. They are a little bit cakey — which I think might be almost unavoidable with pumpkin — but not overwhelmingly so. The cookie itself is surprisingly light in texture, which makes a good contrast with the oatmeal, nuts, and chocolate.
I couldn’t decide if I wanted pumpkin cookies or oatmeal cookies, so I made both. Because I didn’t have enough rolled oats, I ended up using half oats and half five-grain hot cereal, which is a mixture of oats, rye, triticale, barley, and flax. Some of those grains aren’t as soft as the oatmeal, so I wondered how they’d work in the cookies and if they’d be able to absorb enough moisture. But they did, and I actually really like having them there because they add a nice variety of texture. (And they also turn this cookie into even more of a “health food”…. it’s got a vegetable plus lots of grains!)
One more note — a lot of pumpkin cookies out there in the world are mound-shaped and slightly muffin-like. This is because they really don’t spread much in the oven. If you want mounded cookies, you can leave them that way, but I found that I prefer to flatten them before baking. That makes them a little lighter and less cakey, and also crisper on the edges. Flattening the cookies is easiest to do with a fork, like you would a peanut butter cookie.
Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Adapted from Alice Medrich’s oatmeal cookie recipe in her book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy, and guided/inspired by too many internet pumpkin cookie recipes to separate or name.) Makes about 40 cookies.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup rolled oats or five grain cereal (the kind that cooks in 5-6 minutes)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
Combine the flour, baking soda, and spices in a bowl and mix together with a fork or whisk.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and mix in the sugars, salt, and vanilla. Add the egg and stir briskly, then add the pumpkin and stir until it is thoroughly combined and as many of the lumps are gone as you can manage. Next, add the flour mixture and mix just until it is moistened. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and nuts. Let the dough stand for 1 or 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto a baking sheet, and then press each mound of dough flat with a fork, as you would with peanut butter cookies. (Or leave them mounded if you prefer.) Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool on the pan for a couple minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.