My small college didn’t have a very exciting meal plan (sorry, Moore), but they did make a roasted butternut squash soup that changed my life. I’ve never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie (unless it has butter pecans and chocolate toffee bits added to it), so this butternut squash soup was my first encounter with winter squash that made me fall in love with the vegetable. This led to an unhealthy obsession with the triple squash soup at Whole Foods. (That + a mini baguette + an apple + a hunk of good cheddar was my favorite dinner for when I just couldn’t handle eating in the dining hall.)
Around this same time I was becoming obsessed with cooking and reading food blogs. So all of these different eye-opening food experiences were beginning to collide. I had also recently devoured the book The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway. I would attribute that book to fueling my passion for home cooking – for the health benefits, the money-saving incentives and the environmental impact. (It’s a great book and you should totally read it.) In honor of her book I did an experiment that October where I didn’t spend any money eating out (like Cathy did for two whole years in NYC). To celebrate the end of my little adventure and to explore non-pumpkie-pie ways to eat winter squash, I decided to throw a pumpkin party with friends at the end of the month. We carved pumpkins, drank pumpkin beer and ate pumpkin-related foods. It was a blast and just goes to show that you can have a wonderful time with friends over a meal without going to a restaurant.
A few years ago I brought my pumpkin party back to life in full force with the help of my friends Dave and Kelley. (You should remember them from our recent whiskey-tasting party – aren’t they the greatest?) This weekend was our 3rd annual pumpkin party together.
We’ve kicked it up a notch (as we do) by starting the party with coffee, apple fritters and pumpkin doughnuts. This year we made the pumpkin doughnuts from scratch! (Donuts or doughnuts?) The apple fritters were from a place called Fresh Donuts in town – they just scream fall and are a non-pumpkin staple at our pumpkin parties.
Then we traveled to a local farmer’s market with a pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins, do the corn maze and ride on the little tricycles that are meant for much smaller people. It’s a great way to feel like a kid again. We had a smaller group for this portion of the day, but the party grew as the day wore on.
After that we headed back to Dave and Kelley’s house to carve pumpkins in their backyard, drink pumpkin beers and eat all the pumpkin foods. We basically just eat all day long at these parties until we’re in a pumpkin coma. This year’s menu included pumpkin beer cheese soup (a favorite from the previous year), pumpkin risotto, smoked chicken thighs with a pumpkin bbq sauce, pumpkin and ricotta stuffed shells with a butternut squash sauce, a variation of this squash salad with a pumpkin-maple vinaigrette, my pumpkin ginger cookies (recipe below), white chocolate pumpkin fudge bars, pumpkin chocolate chip snickerdoodles, and a wide variety of pumpkin beers plus some fun pumpkin pie pudding shots. We also did a genius thing where we repurposed the leftover glaze and spiced sugar from the pumpkin donuts to doctor up the rims of our beer glasses. SO GOOD. We threw this year’s party together pretty quickly and it might have been our most successful one yet.
So during this time in college that I’ve been referring to, I was also realizing how much I loved ginger. I don’t think I even knew what ginger tasted like until my friend put a ginger beer in my hand. I remember thinking, “Oh … That’s what ginger ale is trying to taste like.” I had no idea. (The things you learn in college, am I right?)
One of my first cookbooks I bought at the time was The Modern Baker, which I still love. There’s a gingersnap recipe in there that is the only gingersnap recipe I will ever need. They’re packed with 3 kinds of ginger (dried, fresh and crystallized), and they are wonderfully chewy. In other words, they’re not ginger-flavored hockey pucks that need to be dunked in hot liquid in order to be edible. They’re fantastic, and despite not having much time for baking in college, I made them multiple times that year. That’s really saying something.
So of course I had to go and mess with them and add pumpkin. I started working on this recipe before last year’s pumpkin party. I had gotten them to an okay point, but they weren’t perfect yet. Adding a ton of pumpkin to a chewy gingersnap totally changes the chemical makeup of the cookie. I’m not a trained cook in any sense; I only know what I know from doing and reading. So I did a lot of trial and error with these cookies (and Robert did a lot of taste testing), but they didn’t fully come together until I got the Ultimate Cookie Handbook by Tessa from Handle the Heat. If you’re like me and you love to bake and want to tweak recipes in a knowledgeable way, then this book is for you. Tessa explains the science behind the ingredients in a way that’s easy to understand. She offers suggestions for different ways to change a recipe in order to achieve the results you want. I can’t recommend it enough and I’m so excited to develop more cookie recipes with help from that book in the future.
I have to say: I’m really proud of these cookies. They’re not terribly sweet, they’re strong on the ginger spiciness but you still taste the pumpkin, they have a nice crunch factor on the edges and with the raw sugar and glaze on top, but they’re soft and chewy in the middle. I also like to think they’re good for me because of all the pumpkin and ginger in there. I brought these into work three times in one week as I was recipe testing, and they disappeared faster and faster each time. That’s the true test of a good cookie around here.
A VIRTUAL PUMPKIN PARTY
This year I decided to extend the pumpkin party to my wonderful internet friends by creating a #virtualpumpkinparty. (<Look for that hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to follow along.) I was totally blown away by their enthusiasm, and just over seventy food bloggers signed up. SEVENTY!!! Wow.
So today the whole huge lot of us are alllllll sharing pumpkin-themed recipes. It’s crazy! We’ve unleashed a true explosion of pumpkin onto the internet. This is such a talented group of people – I can’t even handle the stuff they’ve come up with. (See below for the full list.) I imagine I’ll be organizing this shindig again next year, so if you want to hop in on the fun please sign up using this form.
Why pumpkin? Let’s just admit it – The infamous PSL (pumpkin spice latte for those of you not familiar with the lingo) is popular for a reason. In fact, it’s Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage of all time. Pumpkins and other winter squash (oh hey, butternut) plus warming spices are some of the only reasons I can tolerate summer coming to a close (plus cozy scarves and ankle boots).
I’m inviting you to put on your pumpkin pants with me and the rest of these incredible bloggers who were kind enough to join in on my craziness. Just look at all that goodness below! Now is the time to embrace pumpkin for all its worth. We’ve got you covered with whatever you could be craving right now. You might want to run to the grocery store and buy out the entire shelf of canned pumpkin or start roasting as many as you can squeeze into your oven. I don’t know about you, but I want to make everything on this list. If I don’t have another post on this blog for three months it’s because I was spending all of my time making these pumpkin recipes.
B. Britnell • Pumpkin & Goat Cheese Macaroni
A Couple Cooks • Pumpkin Spice Almond Butter
I Am a Food Blog • Roasted Pumpkin and Pork Stuffed Shells
Well and Full • Harissa-Spiced Pumpkin Gnocchi
Loves Food, Loves to Eat • Pumpkin Pork Burrito Bowls
Girl Versus Dough • Pumpkin Challah
Snixy Kitchen • Black Sesame Pumpkin Mochi Cake
Hungry Girl por Vida • Pumpkin Chocolate Crumb Cake
Donuts, Dresses and Dirt • Pumpkin Spice Latte Truffles
Two Red Bowls • Pumpkin & Caramelized Onion Galette
The Frosted Vegan • Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Gingersnaps
Warm Vanilla Sugar • Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Ice Cream + Affogato
An Edible Mosaic • Pumpkin Spice Latte Snack Cake with Brown Butter Buttercream
Kitchen Konfidence • Yeasted Pumpkin Waffles with Candied Ginger
Chocolate + Marrow • Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Butter Swirl
The Pig & Quill • Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes with Pumpkin Spice Caramel + Coconut Cream
Salt & Wind • Apple Cinnamon Pumpkin Muffins with Pepita Streusel
With Food + Love • Creamy Pumpkin Polenta with Balsamic Roasted Beets
A Cookie Named Desire • Pumpkin Crepes with Cinnamon Ginger Cheesecake
Nommable • Pumpkin Moon Pies
Feed Me Phoebe • Thai Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp and Bok Choy
The Yellow Table • Coconut-Curry Pumpkin Soup
Ginger & Toasted Sesame • Pumpkin Ricotta Gnudi
The Crepes of Wrath • Pumpkin Pie Cake
The Swirling Spoon • Pumpkin Hand Pies
Erin Made This • Pumpkin Rye Waffles with Coconut Caramel
Beard and Bonnet • Pumpkin Spice Pizzelle Ice Cream Sandwiches
My Name is Yeh • Pumpkin Slice and Bake Cookies
Earthy Feast • Pumpkin-Stuffed Turnip-Ravioli with Pepita Pesto
Broma Bakery • Pumpkin Pie White Chocolate Brownies
Floating Kitchen • Pumpkin Beertail with Tequila and Spiced Rum
The Sugar Hit • Pumpkin Everything Bagels
The Bojon Gourmet • Pumpkin Flatbread with Gruyére and Crispy Sage (gluten-free)
Sprinkled with Jules • Pumpkin Spice French Macarons
Feast + West • Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Toffee Bark
Jojotastic • Pumpkin Cinnamon Rimming Sugar
Fix Feast Flair • Pumpkin Spice Japanese Cheesecake
Appeasing a Food Geek • Pumpkin Ale Cake
Tending the Table • Roasted Pumpkin with Tamarind and Coriander Chutney
Long Distance Baking • Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream + Pumpkin Pancakes
My Blue & White Kitchen • Roasted Pumpkin Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto
Fork Vs. Spoon • Pumpkin Buttermilk Pudding
Alyssa & Carla • Pumpkin Tea Bread (in a Coffee Can!)
Twin Stripe • Pumpkin Spice Toffee
Le Jus d’Orange • Lentil-Stuffed Acorn Squash, Crispy King Oyster Bacon + Aged Goat Cheese
The Scratch Artist • Japanese Pumpkin Temaki with Ginger Kale Chips
Brewing Happiness • Caramelized Apple Pumpkin Muffins
Blogging Over Thyme • Homemade Candied Pecan Pumpkin Ice Cream Drumsticks
Heartbeet Kitchen • Pumpkin Swirled Mashed Potatoes
The Speckled Palate • Pumpkin Brown Butter Streusel Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt • Pumpkin Gingersnap Pie
Style Sweet CA • Chocolate Stout and Pumpkin Checkerboard Cake
Fork to Belly • Pumpkin Orange Brulee Pie
Tasty Yummies • Grain-Free Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
Påte á Chew • Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting
Holly & Flora • Pumpkin Pie Martini with Coconut Cream + Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Southern Soufflé • Sorghum Pumpkin Soufflés
Okie Dokie Artichokie • Creamy Pumpkin and Chorizo Pasta Bake, Cheese Tortellini, Sage-Mascarpone Sauce, Toasted Hazelnuts
Kale & Caramel • Pumpkin Goat Cheese Polenta with Brown Butter Thyme Mushrooms & Kale
The Little Epicurean • Maple Pumpkin Butter Brioche Toast
Vigor and Sage • Maple Pumpkin Harvest Smoothie
Tried and Tasty • Whole Wheat Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Sprouted Routes • Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Risotto with Sweet & Spicy Roasted Pepitas (gluten free)
The Fauxmartha • Baked Pumpkin Donuts
So… Let’s Hang Out • Grain-Free Apple Crumble Pumpkin Pie
Wit & Vinegar • Pumpkin Flaxseed Dog Treats
Dunk & Crumble • Pumpkin Roundup
Biscuits and Such • Pumpkin Pound Cake
SugarHero! • Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Pound Cake
A Little Saffron • Spiced Pepita Brittle
Farmette • “Tis Different” Pumpkin Pie
I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all who participated in this #virtualpumpkinparty. What a fun time! Happy pumpkin season, everyone.
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- 1.5 cups (195 g) bread flour
- 1 cup (130 g) all purpose flour
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 tsp water
- raw sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, ground ginger and nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until well mixed in.
- Stir in half of the flour mixture (using the lowest setting of your mixer).
- Stir in the fresh ginger, crystallized ginger and honey. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
- Using a cookie scoop (about 1.5 tbsp), place scoops of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet about two inches apart. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies start to brown on the top. Let them cool for 3-5 minutes on the sheet pan before removing them to a cooling rack.
- Once the cookies have cooled completely, stir together the powdered sugar, vanilla and water to make your glaze. It should be pretty thick or else it will spread out too much on the cookies. Using a fork or spoon, drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies to your heart's content. Top with more raw sugar.
- The cookies should keep at room temperature for a few days.