"Don't be a Robot."
I hear this all the time at school. Every day, we're being taught to think about ingredients, how they relate to each other, the conditions under which we are combining them. A really good example of this is what happened when I tried to pull together a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie by request. I wanted to base the recipe off of my tried and true Chewy Chocolate Chip recipe, but for reference I looked up a few variations on actual pumpkin chocolate chip recipes. What I came up with......didn't work. Like, at all.
One recipe called for two teaspoons of baking soda. That's.....a lot of baking soda. But I rolled with it because the collection of recipes I found all called for a full cup of pumpkin puree. That's a lot of pumpkin puree. So I thought, I don't know, maybe I need all that baking soda to lift all that pumpkin?
Yeah, I really didn't need all that baking soda. The cookies turned out like dense little cakes. I mean, there was a LOT of leavening happening in there.
I also used two whole eggs the first time, and combined with the full cup of pumpkin puree, I think it was just too much liquid. You all might remember that my Chewy Recipe calls for bread flour, because bread flour has a higher % of protein (gluten) than all purpose flour, it holds more moisture and it's going to give you a chewier cookie. But the higher gluten content in that flour held the moisture a little TOO well and I think that also contributed to the "dense little cakes" result.
They tasted great, but the texture was a problem.
So today I sat down with my Chewy recipe and tried to problem solve. I wanted to get out of robot mode. Given the moisture content of the pumpkin puree, what could budge in the rest of my recipe so that I could have that same pumpkin flavor?
I started by switching flours. I used all purpose instead of high gluten to see if I could crisp this cookie up a little.
I used one whole egg, and one egg yolk. Egg whites have a ton of moisture in them (I think they're something like 90% water), and I knew I didn't need the extra liquid.
I cut the pumpkin puree to half a cup, then tasted the batter to see if the pumpkin was coming through.
I took the milk out of my original Chewy recipe- I had enough moisture from the pumpkin, and didn't need more.
I cut the baking soda in half. One teaspoon turned out to be a perfect amount.
With these changes, the batter definitely felt closer to what I thought a chocolate chip cookie dough should be- so I spooned it onto the baking sheet, and into the oven it went.
The cookies came out looking like chocolate chip cookies should. They were buttery and crisp around the edges, moist and pumpkiny inside. I'm very happy with the results, but I might keep playing with this recipe to see what happens if I cut the butter in half, and increase the pumpkin. Or what happens if I use two egg yolks and cut out the egg whites all together? I don't know, but I want to find out!
Many people think baking is straight science. That it's very precise. In some ways it is very much a science: the ratios need to be precise for a formula to work. But within those ratios you can play as much as you want. I'd love to hear what you guys do with this recipe, if you try it. Play with the spices too- I didn't use straight ginger in this recipe, but I'll bet it would be amazing....
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups flour (all purpose)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*QS ground nutmeg
*QS ground cinnamon
*QS pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (semisweet, though if you prefer milk chocolate, I think they'd be good in this cookie)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Allow butter to soften to room temperature.
In a bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, combine the butter and the sugars. Beat on medium speed until the butter and sugar are light. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl if you need to. Add the pumpkin puree, and mix until combined. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice.
In three parts, add the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
Allow dough to chill in the fridge for about an hour.
Scoop onto parchment lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1 1/2-2 inches apart.
Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges turn a nice golden brown.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Then get a nice cold glass of milk, and dive in.
*QS= quantity sufficient. flavor is subjective, so I didn't put specific quantities of spices. Add as much or as little as you like, and suit it to your tastes!