It's the Great Pumpkin Hoarder, Charlie Brown!

If you came over and looked in my pantry, you might assume that I'm living on a diet of pumpkin.  My paranoia that there is a pumpkin shortage is bordering on insanity.  Why else would I buy no less than four cans every time I go to the grocery store?  Because I'm living in fear that it won't be there the next time I go!  What is Fall without PUMPKIN?!  Buy MORE!!!  Lord, help me.  Then the guilt sets in.  Now I must use this pumpkin.  At the end of the season I don't want to see pumpkin still in my pantry while another family goes without because I have it ALL.  So let me share some pumpkin deliciousness with you!  Please.  I need to balance my karma!

Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies
recipe courtesy Smells Like Home

-2 c. all-purpose flour
-1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
-1 tsp. baking soda
-3/4 tsp. salt
-1 c. unsalted butter, softened
-1 1/4 c. brown sugar
-1 large egg
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 c. pumpkin puree
-1c. white chocolate chips
-1 1/2 c. butterscotch chips, divided

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil.  Spray foil lightly with non-stick cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk together and set aside.

-In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and then add brown sugar and beat at med-high speed until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined.  Mix in pumpkin puree.

-With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients until just incorporated.  Fold in white chocolate chips and 1 cup of butterscotch chips.  Spread batter evenly in pan and sprinkle with remaining butterscotch chips. Bake 35-40 minutes or until edges start to pull away from pan.  Transfer to wire rack and cool completely before cutting.

-Use the foil edges to lift cooled blondies from pan.  On a cutting board, peel foil from blondie edges, cut into squares.  Enjoy!

Oh yummy, yum, yum!  These have the best texture-moist, but not too gooey.  You have the contrasting texture and flavor pop of the chips.  It's the flavors of Fall in a little square.  You can free hand the measurement of the chips to your liking, if you want.  I somewhat followed the original recipe; I just added what I thought looked like a good batter/chip ratio.  I didn't, but you could also sprinkle the white chocolate chips on top to have a nice contrasting color.  If you have some pumpkin in your pantry or you're looking for a different way to use pumpkin other than in pie...make these!

Want more?  How about a perfect seasonal dip?

-8 oz. package cream cheese (regular or light), softened
-1/2 c. packed brown sugar
-1/2 c. canned pumpkin
-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, brown sugar and pumpkin at medium speed until well blended.  Add pie spice or cinnamon, and beat until smooth.  Cover and chill for 1 hour.  You can serve this with tart apple slices, graham crackers, gingersnap cookies, or whatever you think would pair nicely with this fluffy, Fall dip!

Pumpkin dip?  Apples?  A kid can't resist.

S'more Biscotti, Does That Count?

The husband and I are not ones to spoil the boys.  All of their grandparents seem to do that well enough for us.  But there are certain things, fun things, that are a part of childhood you want your kids to experience even if it's a pain in the butt on our part.  That pain would be S'mores.  I know.  It doesn't seem like that big of a deal, it's three items, and I regularly make recipes with items that are grocery list long.  We had good intentions and purchased a bag of ENORMOUS marshmallows.  Everywhere we traveled this summer, we took the marshmallows with hopes to roast them to brown/burnt gooey goodness.  Never happened.  Whether it was too sweltering still to have a fire, the mosquitoes hovered in hoards, or it was waaaaay too late in the night to keep the boys (parents) up, the s'mores thing just never happened.  Now I'm feeling bad because summer is at a close, and while it isn't completely impossible to still accomplish, my window is closing.  So here is this, S'mores Biscotti, this mom's attempt to make-up for the real thing this year.  It definitely can't replace a true S'more, but give my boy something with chocolate and marshmallows, and he isn't complaining!

I'm not lying about these ENORMOUS marshmallows

S'more Biscotti
inspired by Sugar Plum

-1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
-1 c. graham cracker crumbs, finely ground and divided
-1/3 c. sugar
-3/4 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
-1/2 of a 7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme
-1 large egg
-1/2 tsp. vanilla
-3/4 c. chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet)
-8 oz. chocolate bark
-1 c. mini-marshmallows

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

-In a large bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk together the butter, marshmallow creme, egg, and vanilla until well combined.  Switching to the paddle attachment, stir in dry ingredients until a stiff dough forms.  Stir in chocolate chips.

-Dump dough onto cookie sheet and form two (approx. 5 inch length) "logs" but not round logs, biscotti shaped logs.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove cookie sheet from oven.  Cool logs for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

-Transfer logs to a cutting board.  These will still be quite warm, watch for hot melted chocolate!  Using a serrated knife, diagonally cut 1/2 inch thick slices, I got 6 cookies from each log.  Place back on cookie sheet; bake 10 minutes, flip over and bake for another 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.

-Melt chocolate bark in microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring each time.  Repeat until completely melted and smooth.  Dip half of the cooled biscotti in chocolate, immediately sprinkle with marshmallows first, then some of the reserved 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs.  Let cool on waxed paper until chocolate hardens.  Sit out over night to get a dryer, crunchier biscotti.

I've never made biscotti before and it was super EASY!  EASY!  I had some pre-concieved notion it would be difficult because biscotti seems to be a pretentious cookie.  Don't judge me for judging!  I only see people enjoy it with espresso or tea, pinkies high in the air.  It doesn't appear to be as easily accessible as say, a chocolate-chip cookie.  But my oldest ate this up like any other kid-friendly cookie, chocolate-dipped end first of course!

Maple Leaves, Please

I've been hoarding this recipe for several years.  It's a special cookie.  It's a labor of love.  And I only pull it out once the leaves start hitting the ground.  Because let's be honest, do you really want a maple cookie in any other season than fall?  Well, I don't anyway, and my maple leaf cookie cutter doesn't see any action till October.  And the action is short lived.  October and November only, then it's back in the storage bin.  Sad face.  So let's enjoy this wonderful cookie while we can!

Maple Cookie
adapted from Food Network

-2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
-1 c. packed brown sugar
-1/2 c. granulated sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 1/2 tsp. maple extract
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/4 c. maple syrup (preferably grade B)
-4 c. all-purpose flour
-2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-Heavy cream

Maple Glaze
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 c. maple syrup (not sugar like the original recipe)
1 tsp. maple extract
1/4 c. unsalted butter

-maple sugar for sprinkling (optional)

In a medium bowl or bowl of stand mixer, cream the butter, then gradually add the sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  Add the eggs, extracts, and maple syrup until well combined.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add flour mixture to wet mixture.  Beat until completely incorporated.  Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, divide dough into four even disks.  Individually wrap each disk and chill for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove one disk at a time from fridge.  Set out 5-10 minutes before rolling.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, 1/4 inch thick.  With a cooke cutter of your choice, cut out cookies, and transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Brush the cookies with heavy cream.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, while cookies bake,  make the maple glaze.  Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until it just reaches the boiling point.  As soon as cookies come out of the oven, brush the maple glaze over the top with a pastry brush.  Keep glaze on low heat.  Can be brought back to a higher heat and whisked if crystallization starts.  Sprinkle with maple sugar if desired.  Let cool.  Store in air tight container.  These are better the next day.

I'm actually not a huge maple fan.  Gasp.  And I've never actually heard anyone proclaim their love for maple, like say, one would about chocolate.  But these cookies are always a big hit.  Perfect with a cup of tea, for sure, and just a visual delight this time of year.