Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mrs. Fields' Halloween Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Long before Sprinkles cupcakes, lavender flavored macarons, and organic frozen yogurt, we've been eating Mrs. Fields' cookies. Super-sized, thick, soft, and chewy, packed with large chocolate chips, walnuts, macadamia nuts and more, these cookies make it easy to fall in love at first bite.

So what does the queen of cookies have to do with Silicon Valley? Surprisingly, the first Mrs. Fields' Chocolate Chippery cookie store opened in downtown Palo Alto in 1977 about a mile from the Stanford campus. With this humble start at the tender age of twenty, Debbi Fields pioneered an entire business built around freshly made cookies, and led the way for other gourmet dessert companies to follow.

Once autumn arrives I get in the mood to bake pumpkin treats. Mrs. Fields' pumpkin cookies offer a fresh way to achieve pumpkin nirvana. The recipe is simple and flexible enough that you can add whatever you like to the batter. We like to use Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, pecans, and crystallized ginger. They're also delicious with walnuts, butterscotch chips, and dried cranberries. The texture is soft and cake-like, not as dense (or intense) as her chocolate chip cookies.

Whip up a batch when you're in the mood for a pumpkin treat. And while you're enjoying them, remember Mrs. Fields' motto that fueled her entrepreneurial determination: Good Enough Never Is.

Halloween Pumpkin Cookies
(adapted from a Mrs. Fields recipe)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips
pecan halves
chopped crystallized ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together with an electric mixer. (This is easiest with a KitchenAid stand mixer.)
3. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until smooth.
4. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing at medium speed for about one minute. Slowly add in flour until a thick batter forms.
5. Place rounded spoonfuls of dough onto a prepared cookie sheet (sprayed with Pam). Smooth the top with a spoon or spatula, then place chocolate chips on top to form a face. Be sure to push the chocolate chips into the dough as they will pop out a little during baking. Or add in other preferred ingredients like pecans, chopped crystallized ginger, walnuts, or dried cranberries to taste.
6. Bake for 12 minutes, or until bottom edges are golden brown. (We needed longer since we baked two cookie sheets at a time. Rotate sheets between top and bottom racks halfway through, or just bake one cookie sheet at a time.) Cool and serve.

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