Robin Anish: Bring on real pumpkin flavor with cookies

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OK grudgingly, I'm ready to throw my hat into the pumpkin-spice frenzy arena. Well, not unconditionally though. I stand firm on my objection to pumpkin-spiced coffee!

The epitome of fall, pumpkins combined with sweet aromatic cinnamon and nutmeg conjure up a warm, cozy feeling that's comforting in the way a hug from a friend is. I welcome that pleasure, but I don't welcome the late summer arrival of pumpkin-spice everything on supermarket shelves. Everything from bottled water to Spam; most of which, don't have actual pumpkin as an ingredient. Summer is short enough without pushing fall a good month or more before its arrival.

OK I guess I'm not really ready to throw my hat into the pumpkin-spice frenzy arena; but, I do enjoy the pumpkin-spice frenzy that goes on in my kitchen once fall has arrived.

Real pumpkin and fresh spices are what pumpkin spice is about. Homemade pumpkin pies, muffins and cakes or a savory pumpkin soup with a touch of curry; that's my idea of proper pumpkin-spice fare.

Comfort for me on a chilly autumn night, is a hot cup of tea and a homemade pumpkin spice cookies.

PUMPKIN-SPICE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, oats, baking soda and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture along with pumpkin. Fold in chocolate chips. Chill 1 hour.

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Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire rack to cool.

***

Enjoying a recent outdoor gathering of friends and family, the warm, early autumn air quickly turned into quite a chill as evening settled in. A mug of pumpkin-spice white hot chocolate would have been just the ticket to bring warmth to such a beautiful autumn evening.

PUMPKIN SPICE WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/2 cups water, divided

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

4 cups whole milk

2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

4 (1/4-inch) thick slices peeled fresh ginger

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional finishes:

Marshmallows

Whipped cream

Rum

DIRECTIONS:

Combine 2 cups water and the pumpkin in a blender. Process for 1 minute. In a large saucepan, combine pumpkin mixture, milk, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, ginger and remaining 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently (do not boil). Reduce heat to low. Add white chocolate chips and vanilla extract, whisking until smooth. Remove ginger.

Ladle into mugs. Top with marshmallows toasted with a small kitchen torch or pile on whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Either option is deliciously enhanced by a shot of good rum.


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