Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Maple Brown Butter Frosting

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving, everyone! This year I spent Thanksgiving with my extended family in Florida. I wanted to contribute something to the big meal, but most items were already taken care of and I had limited space and tools to work with in my grandmother's kitchen, so I decided on something simple: cookies.

I found this recipe on Bakerella about a year ago and it immediately caught my eye for two reasons. First of all, it is a lot more complicated than your average cookie recipe in terms of the number of ingredients and the fact that it involves frosting. And second, it just so happens to include all of my favorite things: chocolate, nuts, pumpkin and frosting (all that's missing from the list is some peanut butter). I thought this would be the perfect Thanksgiving dish for me to bring to the table, cookies with a little extra zing.

Nifty old-fashioned flour sifter

Working on these cookies in my grandmother's kitchen was fun because I got to use some really cool old tools, like the flour sifter pictured above. One tool I was not a fan of was the handheld electric mixer. I had never used one before and it was just a nuisance. It took forever to blend things and it kept spraying batter everywhere, just made me miss my KitchenAid (I'm spoiled, I know).

When I first took these cookies out of the oven and transferred them to a wire rack, I thought I had done something wrong. They didn't feel like cookies at all. They were soft and pillowy. The texture of these cookies is completely unexpected. They're light and fluffy, like pumpkin bread, but in cookie form. At first I thought it was weird, but they taste great and they don't harden, even  if you leave them out overnight. What's not to love?

Frosting the finished product

The one tricky part about this recipe is browning the butter for the frosting. It's important to keep a constant eye on the butter to ensure it browns without burning. Check out the recipe for detailed instructions and a photo, which is very helpful if you've never browned butter before.

My frosting turned out a little bit thinner than Bakerella's, but that might have been because I hand mixed it instead of using an electric mixer. Other than that, this recipe was awesome. A great addition to the Thanksgiving table!

My adorable cousin Aiden enjoying a cookie

A special shout out to my sister Shelby for the beautiful photos. Thanks Shelbs!

Bon appetit!

Pumpkin Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Maple Brown Butter Frosting
Serves 36
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chunks

3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp maple flavoring

Whisk together flour and pumpkin pie spice and set aside.

In an electric mixer, cream butter. Add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour/spice mixture in three additions, alternating with the pumpkin in two additions. Begin and end with the dry ingredients (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry). Stir in chopped pecans and chocolate chunks.

Drop batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, use a small measuring cup or an ice cream scoop to create equal-sized cookies. Bake at 350° F for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow cookies to cool completely before icing.

While the cookies are cooling, brown the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. After the butter melts, it will briefly foam up, then subside. Watch carefully, small brown specks should begin to form at the bottom of the pan. At this point the butter should be golden brown and have a nutty aroma. Remove butter from heat. It is very important to keep a close watch on the butter while it is browning, because butter can go from brown to burned in a matter of seconds. If the butter starts looking black, it's best to simply throw it away and start from scratch.

Brown Butter, Source: The Kitchn

Add butter to sifted sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add milk and maple flavoring and mix until frosting is smooth and has reached your desired consistency (if frosting is too thick, add more milk by the teaspoon and if frosting is not thick enough, add more confectioners sugar). Spread on top of the cookies with a knife.

Source: Bakerella

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