Tuesday, November 19, 2013

50 Chefs for 50 Years and Giada's Pumpkin Spice Cookies

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 The House Smells Like Fall!
Giada.  What can I say.  She is one of the smallest Italian women, ever.  I have seen her appearances on the various morning shows, and her cookbooks have been a staple at the store since she started writing them.  I own a few myself.  I like her approach to food, family and her books are pretty straight forward, even a little basic.  She seems like an instinctive cook (which I am; open the vegetable drawer and invent dinner), and her books are written in a way you can change ingredients and understand how things go together.

Another in my vast collection!

This week was my last cooking class of the year, as Thanksgiving looms!  It was a cookbook club class featuring Giada's newest book: Giada's Feel Good Food.  A cookbook, yes, but also a lifestyle book to answer the question she is most often asked: How does a chef (she went to the Cordon Bleu) stay so darn thin!?  It isn't a diet book, no fear, but rather a book full of healthy recipes (nothing artificial), gorgeous pictures and plenty of great information.  It was really one of my favorite classes, likely because it was topped off by Pumpkin Spice Cookies.  I loved them!  I decided to make them at home with a few changes, but lets break them down first.

The original recipe calls for all purpose flour which we used in class and was fine.  I made my home version with Spelt Flour and it was seamless.

The recipe also calls for Raw Sugar.  We used a Demerara Sugar when we made them in class, and I opted for Light Brown Sugar at home, both produced fine results.

The recipe also calls for Raisins, and well, I opted for chocolate chips.  Yes, really.  I love pumpkin and chocolate, and I decided this was going to be my one pumpkin baked good this season, so I went for it.  And the results were just delicious!

At the store we used our famous Pumpkin Butter instead of canned pumpkin.  I was out of pumpkin butter at home, so had to go canned pumpkin.  I bumped up the spices to try and make up for the depth of flavor found in our pumpkin butter, but I would use pumpkin butter it if at all possible.  The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin, and this really bugs me.  That amount is less than half a can, and what are you going to do with the rest?

And here's where my "aha" moment came.  Prior to class, one of the managers does the grocery shopping for class.  He goes through the scullery for ingredients and lays them all out for me, and there on my cart was a bag of whole allspice.  The recipe of course, calls for ground.  So as I was prepping, I got out the mortar and pestle and ground it up.  Wow!  The aroma was intoxicating, almost overwhelming.  And that came through in the baked cookie in the most delicious, fall-flavored way!  I have been a big fan of fresh nutmeg, fresh ginger, even fresh ground cinnamon, but this was a first.  I immediately went out and bought whole allspice and will never have it anyway but fresh ground again!

Smellavision would be good right about now!

Here's the recipe as written, and my substitutions.

Spiced Pumpkin Cookies
by Giada, adapted by me

1 cup all purpose flour  (I used 1 cup spelt flour)
2/3 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used 2)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I used 3/4 teaspoon of fresh ground)
3/4 cup Raw Sugar (I used light brown sugar)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (I used half a can, but you should use Williams Sonoma Pumpkin butter instead!)
1/3 cup safflower oil
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used 2 of the best vanilla...)
1/2 cup raisins (Ew. I used chocolate chips)

Mix the flour through the all spice in one bowl.  Use a whisk to make sure there are no clumps.  In another bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients except raisins, and again whisk to make sure your sugar isn't clumping.  Finally mix the bowls into one, and stir it up well.  Add your chocolate chips or raisins (or both!).  Drop onto parchment covered baking sheets, and bake about 15-18 minutes at 350˚.  Cool thoroughly before packing into airtight containers. Makes about 30 cookies.

If you have been around awhile, you may have read a similar recipe for Pumpkin Cookies and a nostalgic little story.  Don't tell Betty, but Giada's cookies are tastier! It must be the fresh allspice!  What are you waiting for?  Get in there and bake!

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