Fall is in the air and there might be no better dessert for signaling the changing season than a freshly-baked batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Warm and evocative of autumn, they bring up a powerful nostalgia. I cannot speak to it directly, but I suspect that even people who did not eat these as a child will still feel a wave of reminiscence when eating them.
But a cookie should not have to rely on our memory-laden sentimentality to be so well-loved. No, it should also be delicious. These cookies should be light, not dense, and perfectly done, not doughy or dried out. With this recipe adapted from King Arthur Baking, and our guidance on temperatures (yes, cookies have doneness temperatures), you should have no problem getting them just right.
Quick bread cookies need quick bread temperatures
If you’ve read our post on baking giant chocolate chip cookies, then you may be thinking that you already know to what temperature you need to cook your pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. But if you thought that, you’d be wrong. You see, these cookies don’t have the same structure and composition as a classic choco-chip—no, these are quick bread cookies, which means you’d need to have read our post on zucchini bread to know the correct temperature, which happens to be 200°F (93°C).
Why the higher temperature than standard (Tollhouse) chocolate chip cookies? Mostly because of moisture content. The can of pumpkin (more on that in a minute) brings a lot of water to the party, and some of that water needs to be cooked out. Cooking pumpkin cookies to 200°F (93°C) drives off some of that excess water but doesn’t dry out the cookie. The result is a tender, fluffy cake-like cookie that you’ll want to scarf down about as fast as you can.
To make sure you hit the target temperature, start checking the cookies after they’ve been cooking for about 18 minutes. Use a fast and accurate thermometer like the Thermapen® Mk4 so that you can open the oven, check the cookies quickly, and get the oven door closed fast again if they need more time.
Do I have to bake a pumpkin to make pumpkin cookies?
You may have seen recipes that call for an actual pumpkin that you bake or roast or boil down into pulp before making cookies (or pies), and you may have asked yourself if you should bite the bullet and just go through all the trouble. Nope. Not really. There may be some people that can tell the difference, and there may be some recipes where it really matters, but in general, a can of pumpkin (check the ingredients list, it should just be pumpkin) is as good for any of your autumnal baking forays as any fresh-roasted pulp. This is a quick and easy treat that you could easily make in a spare hour after the house quiets down at night—there’s no need to make it more complicated.
These cookies are light, tender, and spiced just right with that lovely amalgam of flavors that accompany pumpkin so well. They’re perfect for Halloween desserts or for holiday gift-giving, or, yes, just because you want a treat. The cinnamon, especially, is good against the chocolate chips. Use the timer to know when to check your critical temp with your Thermapen, and enjoy this fall cookie like you never have before.Print
Adapted from Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by King ArthurBaking
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C).
- Whisk together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl. To ensure a very even mixing, you can sift them together, as well.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer in a large bowl) cream together the butter and sugars until smooth, scraping the bowl sides if needed.
- Add the canned pumpkin, the eggs, and the vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Do not over mix.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Scoop the cookie batter onto a prepared (greased or parchment-ed) sheet pan using a tablespoon scoop, to make dough balls that are about 1.25″ in diameter.
- Bake the cookies, setting a timer for 18 minutes.
- When the timer sounds, test the internal temperature of the cookies using a Thermapen Mk4. If the cookies haven’t reached 200°F (93°C), close the oven and give them a few more minutes. If the lowest temp you see on the Thermapen display is 200°F (93°C) or even a little above, take the cookies out!
- Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then move them to a rack to finish cooling.
- Eat them!
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