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Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Red Hot Chili Chocolate Cookies :: 5AM Baking

As usual, I was baking at 5AM...

A recent trip to Ed's Real Scoop inspired me to try my hand at Thanksgiving cookies. The combination of Pumpkin and Red Hot Chili Chocolate was great! What I didn't expect was an endless series of cookie batches that turned a curiousity into a downright obsession to re-create this flavour. Over 100 cookies were baked. Over 20 were eaten by yours truly. The things I do for cookies.

Warning: This post is uber-long. With lots of pictures. I've shrunk almost all of them for your bandwidth's sake, but as usual, simply click them to see the regular size.

If you just want to see the final product, click here to skip ahead.
 I adapted this from Allrecipes, and slowly/surely/neurotically kept tweaking it until I was happy/satisfied/diabetic.


Allrecipes Ingredients (changes)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
(3/4 cup brown, 1/4 cup white)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (Apple sauce)
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
(Whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon         
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
(Mini kisses & Lindt chili chocolate)
1/2 cup chopped walnut (upped to 1 cup)
Yield: 2 dozen
Erin's Additions   
Lindt Chili Chocolate
Chili Powder
Jalapeño Pepper
Ground black pepper          Ground Cloves
Freshly minced ginger
Dark chocolate chips
Red food colouring
Hershey Kisses
Icing Sugar
Vanilla extract

Green Food Colouring

Baking Prep
I made 4 different base batches. I decided to make some regular pumpkin cookies (to be safe) and some creative ones. First, I followed the recipe from Allrecipes:

1. Pumpkin Cookie Batter

Pumpkin, brown sugar, white sugar, apple sauce

Eggs & Red food colouring

I didn't have powdered ginger, so I used fresh. Milk, baking soda, and cinnamon

4 batches of pumpkin cookie batter base: done!

3. Batters 1 & 2 
Pumpkin seeds!

Walnuts and chocolate chips! I crushed the nuts with more pumpkin :P
"You keep a stockpile of canned pumpkin in your cupboard?! Who are you?" - A

3. Melt Chocolate
Chocolate is quite delicate - you can't just microwave it or heat it directly because it'll get grainy and gross. Simmer some water in a pot and put a bowl on top. The heat will warm the bowl and melt the chocolate indirectly:

Melt the chocolate indirectly
I had very little chocolate to melt, so I actually just brought the water to boil, turned the stove off and the steam was enough for the thin chocolate bar.

Then add the pumpkin batter

4. Batters 3 & 4: Add nuts and chocolate chunks

Broken up pieces of Lint chili chocolate & walnuts. Don't forget the vanilla!

Crushed walnuts - then refrigerate overnight to firm the dough

Baking Blitz

Batch 1: Pumpkin Cookie Balls

Cookie balls! I used an ice cream scoop to help keep them all the same size.

These were a bit too cake-like for my liking
I baked these at 365F for 12 minutes. The centers were very moist and pumpkin-y. The chocolate and the pumpkin were a winning combination.

Batch 2: Flattened Pumpkin Cookies
I flattened the cookies with the back of the spoon. I first used a dusted cup, then my hand, but the scoop proved to be the least messy. The consistency was much better, but I wanted more spice.
These were less chewy, because I didn't adjust the baking time. For the bites that didn't include chocolate I realized that it needed more cinnamon.

Batch 3: Added cinnamon
Smile for Dark Chocolate!
I just sprinkled cinnamon on top because the batter was already in danger of over-mixing...
Batch 4: Hersey Kiss Hats
I remade some more cookie balls so I could make little "hats" with kisses. I just like the way these look, and figured there would be those who didn't want too much chocolate. Just poke them in when the cookie is still warm

Batches 5 & 6: Dark Chocolate Chips & Happy Faces
I liked these when they were flattened, and I made a few more balls with little faces. I used the corners of another chocolate bar for triangles. I wanted them to look like pumpkins, but they reminded me of Super Mario clouds.

Batches 7 & 8: Chocolate & Chili
After a few flattened chocolate-pumpkin cookies, there was a noticeable lack of the *kick* I wanted.  So I sprinkled some chili powder on top. Not bad.
The consistency of these cookies were much better due to the added chocolate. If I were to make a pumpkin base again, I'd add more liquid.

Batch 9: Dark Chocolate & Chili Stuffed Cookies
I decided to up the chili content, but to be more creative I stuffed a bunch with Hershey's dark chocolate chips and chili powder. Mmm...this made them extra decadent, but where was the BITE?!

I had a bit of fun poking nuts and seeds in these to make funny-looking animals.

Batch 10: Turkey Cookies
I wanted them to be Thanksgiving-y, so after stuffing with chili and chocolate, I added turkey heads. I then used bran flakes and almonds for wings/feathers.

I was feeling a little frustrated though. I could taste the chili, but there wasn't enough zip. I remembered the sharp bite from The Bellevue's Jalapeño Chocolate Shake...but the grocery store was too far for just 1 jalapeño pepper. I remembered that I happened to have jalapeño jelly dip in my cupboard. It did give it a spice, and it certainly made is sweeter from all the pectin...but then it hit me: why not try black pepper?

"And you have Jalapeño Jelly just laying around?!" - A

Batch 11 & 12: Jalapeño Jelly & Black Pepper
Black pepper & Jalapeño Jelly!

The jelly actually worked out well because the extra liquid & sugar made the cookie batter more runny and the cookies chewier. Also, they added bright green flecks here and there!

They stayed nice and soft for a whole week, and probably would've lasted longer if they weren't gobbled up. I took the last batch of cookie dough, with the chunks of chili chocolate, and repeated the previous additions: Jalapeño jelly, freshly ground black pepper, chili powder, and dark chocolate chips.

Now that I was satisfied, I made a more batches and had a few experimental additions:

Topped with Nutella = fail!

Topped with peanut butter = looked neat, but fail!

Coarse Salt = WIN! (Idea from Te Aro's Chocolate Sea Salt Cookie)

Topped with Jalapeño Jelly = Win!

Topped with square of Lindt Chili Chocolate

Burnt cookies - Fail! I blame Dwight Schrute. Luckily, this only happened once.

Topped with pumpkin = win! Especially with red food colouring

"You treat cooking like it's a chemical experiment" - S

Now that I was done, I stood back and admired my handiwork. Even though I liked the flat, chocolate-y cookies the best, they were all tasty. Other than the pumpkin covered cookies, there was a lack of colour...
Thanksgiving Cookies!!!

Stick of butter, heaps of icing sugar, splash of vanilla & a little milk. Be careful not to add too much at once. Slowly add the sugar and keep mixing to taste. 
Go easy on the milk/vanilla - if it's too water, it's a pain in the pumpkin to fix. You'll need to keep adding sugar and end up with an insane amount of icing or start over.

Add food colouring & keep spooning icing sugar until you get the consistency that you want. I popped it in the fridge so it could set while the cookies cooled down, then I spooned a heap into a zip lock. Snip the end, and you have your own icing-bag!

Pumpkin tops!

After all of this, I ended up with an insane amount of cookies:

I made bunny faces with almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and pepitas.!

Bunnies, piggies, pumpkins!!

 I packed the cookies up to deliver to potlucks, friends, and keep in for myself. Yummm.

I will make these again, but with the following in mind:
- 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 white sugar (instead of 3/4 & 1/4) to make them crispier
- Sea salt instead of Kosher salt
- Try minced Jalepeno 
- Try red pepper flakes, red peppercorn, and cayenne pepper
- Since I personally did not find it had enough kick anyways, combining good quality dark chocolate + chili flakes/powder seems more economical than using a Lindt bar 

So, here's the recipe that I will use next time:
Yield: ~30 cookies 
Bowl 1:
1 cup canned pumpkin
cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
100g melted Chili Chocolate
1 egg 

Bowl 2:
2 cups whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt
 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp  ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tbsp red food colouring

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk

Add last:
Jalapeño Pepper, finely chopped*
2 cups dark chocolate chips
...and/or broken up Lindt chili chocolate
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Sea salt

*Or add this later in a test batch
...or use jalepeno jelly (but more $)

1. Combine the above ingredients in 2 separate bowls
2. Mix the 2 together - no need to mix completely because you will...
3. Add the last column, tweak to taste. Be careful to not overmix.
4. Put in the fridge for at least a few hours - preferably overnight.*
5. I like small cookies. Scoop onto parchment paper and flatten, unless if you want cake-y cookies
6. Sprinkle sea salt on top, cololured pumpkin puree, jelly, squares of chocolate, etc.
7. Bake at 365F for 12 minutes for chewy. 14 minutes for crispier.

I would make a small test batch at first to taste. Play around.

*You can also roll the dough into a tube, and cover with saran wrap. After the dough has chilled, you can use a knife to slice the batter for nice, even cookies.

 I love playing in my kitchen. I just wish I had time to do this more often!


cat said...

this is one of my daily go to pages though I feel as I am blog stalking you.
I find it odd that you inspired me to want to get up at 5 am to cook before work.

Chris ( said...

I love how experimental you are with your food.. and you're not afraid to do something over and over again to get it perfect. I have got to try your cookies one of these days! I've never had chilli/jalapeno cookies before.

Erin said...

haha! Well sorry to disappoint then, I totally forgot to publish today's post - so I've scheduled it for tomorrow instead :). 5AM is the BEST for kitchen experiments! It's oddly satisfying to play with your cooking as the sun creeps into the kitchen. the very least, I encourage you to try Lindt's Chili Chocolate. Let it melt in your mouth slo-o-w-ly. At first, you'll enjoy the deep dark chocolate flavour, then the aftertaste of the chili bite is amazing.

Richard said...

Hi Erin,
I know I didn't convince you on my mango tip, so let's see if you'll like this one when it comes to cookies.But then again you may already do this.Rather than mixing the chips, walnuts ,etc at the end, try adding them after you've mixed the wet ingredients together. Then slowly add the dry stuff in batches. I find it's easier to mix and gets incorporated better.By the way, nice suggestions for additions, makes my choc. chip cookies seem so boring.

Erin said...

Hi Richard!
I totally agree - that's what I do when I make my chocolate chip walnut banana bread :) Great tip. Mmm cookies! I still love the classic chocolate chip.

Marea Davis said...

YUM! I absolutely love the idea of jalapeno, pumpkin, and chocolate!! Excited to check out the rest of your recipes! Thanks for the update and I love your cooking style :]


Richard said...

Hi Erin,
Was that the same chocolate chip walnut banana bread that you were going to make, post pictures and share the recipe? :)

Erin said...

Haha Maybe one day? :P I haven't made it in awhile! It's due for a re-appearance.

Marea Davis said...

YUM! I absolutely love the idea of jalapeno, pumpkin, and chocolate!! Excited to check out the rest of your recipes! Thanks for the update and I love your cooking style :]


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