Sunday, September 29, 2013

Autumn Chipper's

Autumn is here and that means it's time to bake some cookies! So why not take advantage of the flavours of the season?

This recipe is based on one from the gals at Mennonite Girls Can Cook, but of course I made my own adjustments! I reduced the brown sugar slightly, added some more spices, toasted almonds and upped the quantity of chocolate chips!

The other most noticeable ingredient difference between their recipe and mine is that I use Butternut Squash rather than canned or fresh pumpkin.

Canned pumpkin is readily available this time of year, but it can vary greatly in price. I recently saw a tweet from a Canadian cookbook writer lamenting the cost of a can was $4.99! I have no idea what brand or where they were shopping, but I suspect it was an organic store as most major grocers have it for under $3/can in the weeks leading up to Canadian Thanksgiving (2nd Monday of October).

But why spend the money on a canned product when a cheaper, fresh alternative like squash is so readily available? Why not take a little extra time now and cook up some squash to freeze for use throughout the year as a baking ingredient or a vegetable?

NOTE: When the spices are added, you can NOT taste ANY difference or notice any difference in texture! It is purely a matter of choice whether you use pumpkin or squash for this recipe or any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
Once it is cooked and mashed, it is a simple substitute for any recipe that calls for pumpkin. I prefer using Butternut Squash as it has less waste than many other squash varieties and also has a great texture and flavour when cooked. It is very simple to prepare either for eating right away as a vegetable or to freeze for later use in baking or as a side dish. The peel is thin and can be removed with a vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Once you've peeled, seeded and cubed the squash - give it a rinse in a colander, then place in a dutch oven or large casserole dish. Add a bit of water and a dash of salt. Cover and bake in the oven at 350 till tender (easily pierced with a fork). I generally do 2 or 3 squash at the same time but the quantity is up to you. Cooking time will vary depending on quantity but check after about 20-25 minutes. Drain any excess fluid and mash. Cool slightly and divide into individual 1/2 cup portions. I put the servings in zippered snack bags, flatten and seal - then lay on a cookie sheet to freeze before transferring to a zippered freezer bag to store in freezer for later use. Freezing and storing them flattened takes up far less space. The 1/2 cup portions are perfect for a single vegetable serving or to calculate how much you will need for any recipe.

Now back to the cookies!

I gave samples of this cookie to several people and it got great reviews!

Autumn Chipper's

1 1/2 cups block margarine, softened to room temp
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves 
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 cups cooked and mashed squash or 1 15 oz can pure pumpkin 
2 cups quick oats
3 cups dark mini chocolate chips (I prefer Foley's*)
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted**

- Beat together margarine and sugars till light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly.
- Combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.
- Alternately add flour mixture and pumpkin - beginning and ending with the flour mix. Beat well.
- Add oatmeal, combine just to blend.
- Lastly mix in chocolate chips and toasted almonds.
- Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake at 350ยบ for 15-18 minutes.
- Remove immediately to cooling rack. Makes about 10 - 11 dozen.
- Cookies freeze well.

* Foley's can be found in small bags in some grocery stores in Canada but I prefer to buy it in quantity at Costco. A 5kg box is generally around $20 but SO worth it!! The flavour is dark, pure and intense! If you can't find Foley's, try to find a really good quality dark mini chocolate chip.

** To toast Almonds: place almonds on a microwave safe plate and set to medium high for about 4-5 minutes - stirring every minute or so till toasted. These can burn very easily so watch carefully! Allow to cool completely before adding to the cookie batter.



Here are links to my other "pumpkin" recipes:
Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Ice Cream (one of many variations to this ice cream recipe)

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