Tuesday, October 21, 2014

nothing makes a house smell better than baking: pumpkin oatmeal cookies with apple cider frosting (or filling)

Limbo land stretches on.  Thank goodness for a week away at the beach.  Sara and I had absolutely perfect weather for her final college fall break.  We were continually amazed at being warm all hours of the day,  hot in the afternoon and super comfortable out on the sandbars in the warm October waters of the gulf.  Gorgeous.  Nice tan.  Well fed, but not too well fed (glided right by the Publix key lime pie which is legendary, but a lot of pie for one person since it's not a Sara thing).  And hilarious times with the in-laws who made it down at the end of our trip (it is their place after all).  Greg Face Timed with us every morning and evening (which are exact opposites in China) and that's always fun.  I'm sure the kids are not nearly as amazed by Face Time as we are and heaven knows our parents find it even more hard to imagine.  Greg and I have spent so much time chatting on Face Time that I know the landmarks of his usual weekend walks through Shanghai.  We're over half way through two months on opposite sides of the world.  Let me tell you, we're about done with it.  We can't wait to get to Sydney!  But, we're still waiting.  Lots of good activity on the house in the last week.  Keep the good thoughts coming.

All the house activity has kept my cooking and baking for one to a bare minimum.  Who wants to buy a house that smells like roasted cauliflower?  But seriously, I have a really pretty cauliflower and I am eating for dinner tonight if it takes a day or two to air the house out.  The weather is getting more mild here as the week goes on and Rio loves the windows open.  But people always want to buy a house that smells like baked goods so I baked these cookies last weekend and today I'm baking Smitten Kitchen's chocolate babka (can't move all my ingredients so say good bye to my luscious bulk French chocolate plus I've always wanted to bake a babka just to say it).

After yoga one morning in Broad Ripple I stopped by Locally Grown Gardens (go) to ogle at all the Laguiole cutlery (current obsession which incidentally is the only thing I found in Sydney that costs the same as it does here so I'm being good and only bought one little condiment spoon at LGG) and peruse all of their gourmet groceries and fresh produce.  Now that the farmer's markets are all wrapped up here on the north side this is my go-to for local.  I splurged on a crisp and sweet half gallon of apple cider so I looked for some baked good to use cider and pumpkin (another pantry find).

Found a couple of recipes for soft pumpkin oatmeal cookies and one used boiled cider in the filling for little cream pies.  It also used a cup of butter and not much spice so I substituted some Greek yogurt and upped the spices.  If you have pumpkin pie spice, just use 2 tsp or so of that in place of all the spices I have listed.  I've never bought pumpkin pie spice as a blend and every time I make something pumpkin I'm looking up a substitution and making my own. This is totally fine since I always have all the spices, but it would be way easier to buy the blend.  I also replaced some white flour with wheat flour because you can't tell the difference and it's incrementally better for you (plus, I have wheat flour to use up before I move).  I did make a few into the little cookie sandwiches, but the others I just frosted because they are pretty big cookies to start let alone to double and fill with cream.  The cookies are pretty yummy without frosting or filling too.

get your pumpkin spice and cider fix


Cookies

1 C all purpose flour
3/4 C whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 3/4 C old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
3/4 C light or dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 C maple syrup
1/2 C plain Greek yogurt
3/4 C pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla

Frosting (or Filling)
4 T unsalted butter, softened
4 oz. light cream cheese, softened
3 T apple cider syrup (1/3 C cider boiled down-see below)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T flour (optional)
1 1/2 C confectioner's sugar

Cider Syrup
1/3 C apple cider

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, oats, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.  Set aside.
In a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until pale and fluffy.
Beat in the egg followed by the syrup, yogurt, pumpkin and vanilla.  Slowly add dry ingredients (or they will fly out of the bowl and get you and your counters) and mix until well combined.
Drop a big heaping spoonful of dough (about 2 T) onto the parchment lined sheets about 2-inches apart (they spread, but not crazy).  Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until edges are golden brown but centers are still a little soft.  Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely before frosting or filling (or eat them warm, they're pretty delicious with milk, coffee or tea).

Prepare the syrup by pouring the cider in a small non-reactive pan and heating it to a rolling boil, stirring.  Reduce heat to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often until reduced but before it turns hard (you could end up with almost a solid so watch the cider).

Prepare the filling by beating together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Beat in the cider syrup (mine was a little warm and all was well), cinnamon, flour (if using, it did thicken the mixture nicely but it seems pretty optional) and add the confectioner's sugar slowly so it does not make a gigantic powdery mess.  Beat until smooth.  Adjust with more confectioner's sugar if necessary for desired spreading consistency.

Spread a nice layer of frosting on each cookie top or spread on one cookie bottom and top with another cookie for a little cream pie.

Serve immediately or refrigerate in a covered container to store.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies or 12 cream pies.

ingredients

dry ingredients (that's freshly grated nutmeg all across the top)

creamed butter and sugars

eggs, yogurt, vanilla and maple syrup in and pumpkin is next

dry ingredients ready to incorporate

dough  try not to eat all of it (pumpkin is tastier cooked)

cookies cooling, nice and soft

filling or frosting however you like it

cream pies or frosted cookies

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