Pumpkin Butterscotch Chip Cookies

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

Aaahhh—fall is in full swing and pumpkin epitomizes the season’s flavors. Because the weather (at least here in South Texas) is more pleasant, there are several fall festivals and outdoor social gatherings—and opportunities for us to share the bounty of the harvest with others. For autumnal potlucks, we like to bring something sweet and seasonal, such as pumpkin butterscotch chip cookies. These soft snacks are simple to make and the recipe yields a lot to feed a crowd.

Bake up a bountiful batch of pumpkin butterscotch chips cookies for fall festivities, football tailgating, lunchbox desserts, afterschool snacks and National Pumpkin Day celebrations.

Recipe

(Adapted from Delish)

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar (granulated white)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup pumpkin puree (around half a can)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups butterscotch chips

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl/mixer, cream the butter with the white and brown sugars. Beat in the egg. Stir in the pumpkin puree.

Mix in the vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture to the dough (do not overmix). Fold in the butterscotch chips. Form the cookie dough into a large ball, place in another bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Use a 1-inch round scoop to drop onto greased baking pans (we lined ours with foil) about two inches apart. Press extra butterscotch chips on top of the rounds (optional). Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10-14 minutes until puffed up and slightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest for five minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Yield: Approximately 4 ½ dozen soft cookies.

Notes

  • The original recipe called for chocolate chips but we liked butterscotch chips. Cinnamon chips are a good substitution as well.
  • Save the remaining half can of pumpkin puree for another recipe.
  • Search our blog for other pumpkin recipes.

M&M Cookies

October 13: National M&M Day

Those who love chocolate chip cookies like us will certainly enjoy its colorful, crispy “cousin”—M&M cookies. The candies are a festive substitute for the chocolate chips and can be made with the colors of the season (warm oranges, yellows and chocolate M&Ms for fall; red and green M&Ms for Christmas; pastel M&Ms for spring and Easter, etc.). But we followed the classic M&M cookie recipe for our blog post today in observance of National M&M Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from M&Ms)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cup (1 package) M&Ms

Directions

In a large bowl, cream the butter with the brown and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg. Stir in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add this into the butter-egg mixture. Stir until a smooth dough is formed.

Fold in the M&Ms, reserving a few to press onto the top the cookies (optional). Scoop one-inch balls onto a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving them about two-inches apart. Flatten slightly for flatter cookies (optional). Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Yield: Approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Notes

  • We recommend letting the cookie dough rest after folding in the M&Ms. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for half an hour before scooping into balls. This also helps to prevent the cookies from spreading too much during baking.
  • Adjust baking times for softer cookies (10-12 minutes) or crisper cookies (12-15 minutes).
  • Learn more about M&Ms from the official candy website at http://www.mms.com.

Day of the Dead

(Día de los Muertos) Cookies

November 2: All Souls Day

Having lived among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in South Texas, we came to know many as our friends and learned about their holiday traditions and customs. Around Halloween leading up to All Souls Day (Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos), we have seen several homes, churches and other significant cultural places set up colorful ofrendas (altars) as tributes to loved ones who have passed away. Displayed on these altars are framed photos of the dead, cut paper banners, flowers (marigolds), candles and/or incense, religious symbols and icons, food and other toys/trinkets. Some communities have lively parades with people dressed in skeleton costumes. Some families visit the gravesite of the deceased, decorate it and have a feast there.

At first, outside observers find the festivities excessive and even creepy. But in time we have come to appreciate the Mexican rituals that celebrate the lives of the dearly departed so that they are never forgotten! How nice it is to be remembered in a fond and fun way!

We are grateful that our amigos have taught us a little more about the Day of the Dead and invited us to participate in some of their family activities. Learn more about this Mexican holiday from the Inside Mexico website. And celebrate life (not death) with these chocolate cookies decorated with colorful fondant cutouts!

Recipe

(Adapted from Southern Living Incredible Cookies)

For the chocolate cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (we used Mexican vainilla)

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, ground cinnamon and chili powder or cayenne pepper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the powdered sugar. Beat in the eggs. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Mix until a sticky dough is formed. Roll the dough into a large ball, divide in half or thirds, cover and refrigerate until firm (about an hour). Roll out dough ¼-inch thick in between two sheets of waxed paper.

Cut out shapes with a skull-shaped cookie cutter. Place on a lightly greased baking pan. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to firm up the dough. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for five minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely and become crisp.

For the decorations

  • Powdered sugar
  • White fondant
  • Red fondant
  • Other different colored fondant
  • Colorful edible markers

Directions

On a clean surface dusted with powdered sugar, roll out the white fondant to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out enough skull shapes for all the cookies. Set aside in a covered container so the fondant does not dry out. Lightly brush the chocolate cookie with a little water and position the white skull-shaped fondant over it. Smooth out the edges.

Roll out the red fondant and cut out a tiny heart shape using the mini heart plunger tool. Dab a little water on the red heard and position it upside down in the center of the white skull-shaped fondant. Use different shaped flower cutters on different colored fondant to make the eye layers.

Use the end of a large round tip to make the eyeballs. Attach “eyes and eyeball” layers with a little water. Roll out different colored fondant and cut a small daisy shape. Position part of the daisy shape on top of the skull.

Trim off the three petal parts on top and save this to position on the chin as a decoration, attaching both with a brush of water. Use different color edible markers to draw the facial decorations (we used dots, stitches and swirls). Be as colorful and creative as possible. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Notes

  • We got our skull-shaped cookie cutter at the gift shop in the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston, Texas. As morbid as the experience seemed to be, the exhibits and historical information were presented very well. Everything was fascinating and well worth the trip and visit.
  • Pan de muerto (sweet “bread of the dead”) and sugar skulls are foods related to Día de los Muertos. We hope to feature these recipes in upcoming blog posts.
  • Vanilla sugar cookies may be substituted in this recipe. But because chocolate originated in Mexico and has a nice color contrast to the white fondant, we baked dark chocolate cookies instead. We also used fondant to decorate them because we still have not mastered icing (outlining and flooding) our cookies!
  • Search our blog for more Mexican, Tex-Mex and Halloween recipes.