Friday, November 15, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Halloween was a challenge in the Middle East.  First of all, no random trick-or-treating allowed for fear of startling the neighbors.  Instead, we had to arrange a round-robin sort of progressive trick-or-treating with Halloween savvy Americans.  Secondly, costumes were eyed suspiciously- one of our Hungarian guests at a Halloween party saw me working in the kitchen in my Palestinian costume and assumed I was a village woman we had hired to make dinner. Consorting with witches, goblins and ghosts just seemed weird to them - it does to us at times!  The biggest challenge was finding the pumpkin for the Jack-O-Lantern.  

One year I had to use various melons which we found don't carve well.  But being determined to have a jack-o-lantern for our poor culturally deprived children, we eventually found a pumpkin. Yes, they had them but they were large, the wrong color and grown exclusively for their meaty flesh to be used in stews and ragouts.  Tunisians used them like we use a hubbard squash and hadn't visualized them as lanterns with scowling, grinning features.  At least the vegetable merchant didn't get it and we had to repeat several times that yes, we wanted the whole thing. which necessitated a jaunt to the meat market where the scale was big enough to weigh "the whole thing."  ("Crazy Americans!").  

This, the smallest of the pumpkins, 2 feet in diameter, weighed in at 50 pounds. One of my favorite images is that of my husband hauling it to the car, with Tunisians watching curiously after him.  But there was carving fun for all and it held several pillar candles.  Another perk - I cooked down the 4 inch flesh the next day to use as pumpkin pie filling - something else we couldn't find there, so it took care of two holiday traditions!  The soft, cakey cookies that follow are my husband's favorite: the combination of pumpkin with all the right spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice- bespeak autumn holidays. And then consorting with chocolate chips and walnuts... no tricks involved, just plenty of treats!




Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup softened butter
1 1/2  cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
5 cups flour
1 tab. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. soda
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 - 1 cup chopped walnuts
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
crumbled toffee bits

-Mix butter and shortening in mixer with both sugars, until creamed together.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in pumpkin.

-Add flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, soda and vanilla extract to pumpkin mixture and gently stir together until smooth on low speed of mixer.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts and stir.  Chill dough for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

-Place dough by heaping tablespoons on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until just starting to golden around edges.  Remove and let cool.

-Melt bittersweet chocolate in microwave oven for about 1 minute.  Stir and allow to cool about 5 minutes.  Drizzle chocolate over tops of cooled cookies from a spoon or place in a plastic bag with a small hole cut in the corner and squeeze chocolate ribbons over cookies.  Sprinkle tops of cookies with toffee bits.  Makes about 50 cookies.

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