As I wrap up the last week of my culinary arts I course at George Brown College, it is nice to think of what I have learned. I am definitely more nimble with my chopping skills, which was helped by my new Santoku knife. Obviously the right knife for the proper job makes it a lot easier. Anyways, I digress… I had never even heard of mirepoix, or ever made an herb sachet or knew how to “properly” peel ginger (or that it could be frozen, too!). I learned not to be scared of the burnt brown stuff that accumulates at the bottom of the pan, because after you deglaze it, that is where all the flavour comes from. But those are just technicalities, as what I took away most from the courses was the confidence to be creative in the kitchen. At least a bit more than before… We actually didn’t do much baking, other than a quiche, but cooking is a more creative art. Baking (pastry specifically) is a bit more regimented but I tried my hand at being a bit more creative with these cookies, with a little help from my mom as she nudged me in the right direction.
We took the recipe for super soft pumpkin and chocolate chip cookies from Deelish Dish (who adapted them from Joy the Baker). We wanted something a bit healthier, not that we don’t love chocolate chips, but we subbed in dried cranberries for the chocolate, reduced the sugar and oil, and added in walnuts for crunch. The orange zest was added when we saw my lonely orange on my counter slowly weeping. The flavours worked incredibly well together and wasn’t too sweet. The spices married well within the big, soft, moist cookies. They were more of a cross between a cake and cookie, but within a smaller, portable packet. I only got 16 cookies when I used the 1/4 cup scoop and made huge cookies.
Super Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Cranberries, Walnuts and Orange Zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup sugar
just under 1/2 cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 chopped walnuts
zest from 1 orange
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper.
2. Stir the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed (my mom did this by hand, no worries if no electric beater), beat the eggs and sugar until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides as needed. On low speed, mix the oil, pumpkin, and vanilla until blended. Mix the flour mixture to incorporate it. Stir in the nuts, zest and cranberries by hand.
4. Scoop mounds of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least 2 1/2-inches apart. About 1/4-cup per scoop (this makes BIG cookies.. we only got 16 cookies with this recipe. Smaller is ok, too!).
5. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, about 15 minutes. Let them cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Makes 16 cookies