Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}

Before I get to the recipe, I just want to say thank you for the overwhelming response to On Self-Care & Food Blogging. I’m so fortunate to have such thoughtful and supportive readers.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}While reorganizing my Recipe Index last week, I was astonished at the lack of vegan pumpkin recipes in my repertoire. Besides being a delicious vehicle for warm autumnal spices, pumpkin is an excellent egg replacer—something about the water content and fibrous innards, I suppose. All I know is that if you use 1/4 cup of the stuff in place of each large egg in a cookie recipe (and add a little pumpkin pie spice), you’ll likely escape the cakey cookie problem that plagues so many home bakers this time of year. And if you substitute melted coconut oil for the usual butter…well, you might suddenly have a lot of vegan friends asking about Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Not that I’d know anything about that 😊

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan} come together easily—no need for a mixer. Just whisk together some melted coconut oil, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla, before folding in a mixture of flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}At this point, you could add anything you like to the dough—dried fruit, nuts, candy, you name it. I’m usually all for that sort of thing, but sometimes simple is best. Pumpkin and chocolate are wonderful together; I made that pairing into some killer blondies a couple of weeks ago and I’m bringing back again today. I mean, why mess with perfection? Vegans like pumpkin and chocolate too.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling it into balls and baking at 350F for about ten minutes. They won’t spread much, remaining tall and puffy after they come out of the oven. Let them cool on a rack for a few minutes before enjoying.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}I am crazy about these cookies, y’all. They have chewy edges and soft centers, and the chocolate somehow stays a little melty long after it has reached room temperature. For those of you concerned about these cookies having a coconut flavor from the coconut oil, know that it’s very mild, especially if you use the refined stuff. As with most pumpkin baked goods, the autumnal flavor of these cookies intensifies the day after they’re made, easily masking any tropical undertones and making this a quality make-ahead recipe.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}A pumpkin recipe that’s packed with chocolate, vegan, and is best if made ahead?! I’d be running to the kitchen right now if I were you.Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan}
makes about 22 medium cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup coconut oil, melted (use refined for a milder flavor)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 oz dark chocolate, chopped

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together coconut oil, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold dry ingredients into wet. Fold in chopped dark chocolate. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Scoop dough in two tablespoon increments. Roll into balls and place them at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 5 minutes before rotating the pans top to bottom and baking an additional 4-5 minutes. Let cookies cool on pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Pumpkin flavor will intensify as the days go on.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesWhile I am all about the Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake I posted on Wednesday, I’ll be the first to admit that it might be intimidating. I sort of live for complex recipes, but I totally get that a recipe involving making your own toasted hazelnut meal and relying on whipped egg whites for structure might not be for everyone 😬

Today, let’s keep things simple. Really, really, really simple. Let’s make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesY’all, this recipe is about as simple as it gets. To make these seasonal sweets, you’ll only need a bowl, a whisk and a silicone spatula. No mixer required!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesThis recipe is just a pumpkined-up (<–let me have that one 🙏🏻 ) version of my regular blondie recipe. Adding pumpkin pie spice is a no-brainer, but how do I get pumpkin into these cute little bars?! Easy—just omit the egg white (but keep the yolk!) and add 1/4 cup of pumpkin purée in its place! This keeps our blondies chewy rather than cakey, as pumpkin baked goods are prone to be. If you want cake, make my Pumpkin Bundt Cake—yes, I’m still obsessed with it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesThe batter for these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies comes together in about ten minutes and bakes up in twenty. By far the most time consuming part of this process is waiting for the blondies to cool…

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies…but it only takes an hour and it’s totally worth it. I mean, look at these clean edges 😍

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip BlondiesYou’re going to love these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies! They’ve got all the chewy texture you expect from a great blondie, all the pumpkin flavor you want, and chocolate. Plus, you can practically make ‘em with your eyes closed!

But don’t, okay? 👀 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies
makes one 9-inch pan, about 9-16 blondies 

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/4 cup pumpkin purée
1 large egg yolk, room temperature 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease the foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk in pumpkin purée and egg yolk, followed by vanilla. Add flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk to combine. Fold in 2/3 cup of the semisweet chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Dot the top with remaining 2 tablespoons of semisweet chocolate chips. Bake 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.

Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use the foil overhang to remove them to a cutting board. Remove foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice blondies. Serve.

Leftover blondies will keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeI spent this past weekend celebrating my little sister, Eliot’s 30th birthday. We ate breakfast tacos and went to our first game at Fenway Park and laughed til we cried at least once. We also put on one hell of a birthday party in her Cambridge, MA, apartment, complete with lots of friends, a batch of salsa, and two of these Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cakes.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeEliot didn’t specifically ask for this cake. When we started talking about her birthday a few weeks ago, she said she’d be perfectly happy with Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies or the Winning Hearts & Minds Cake we both love so much. After her summer in India, she’s discovered that maybe wheat isn’t for her, so her main request was that whatever I made be gluten-free. That was easy enough—I am all about flourless cakes. And chocolate and hazelnut is her favorite sweet flavor combination, so here we are.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeY’all, this Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is like a combination between a fudgy brownie and a jar of Nutella. Chocolate hazelnut overload! It’s very simple to put together and only has six ingredients: bittersweet chocolate, hazelnuts, eggs, butter, sugar, and salt. Yep, that’s all it takes to make this cake, but as with most recipes that have minimal ingredients, each one must be handled with care.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe chocolate has to be melted and cooled to room temperature.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe hazelnuts have to be toasted before having their skins removed and being blitzed into a fine meal.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe eggs need to be separated and the whites have to be whipped to stiff peaks.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeYes, all of that must be done before the batter can be put together. None of those steps are difficult or time-consuming, but they are completely necessary—no shortcuts here!

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeTo make the batter, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg yolks and hazelnut meal before adding the chocolate. Stir 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into the batter before carefully folding in the rest 1/4 at a time. Pour it all into a buttered, parchment-lined cake pan and bake it just until a tester comes out clean.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeInvert it onto a foil-lined plate.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeRevert it onto a serving dish (or your favorite cake stand).

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeEliot wanted her cake served with a dusting of confectioners sugar, but I prefer it with a puddle of ganache and some more toasted, skinned hazelnuts.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeSlice it up and try not to eat the whole thing.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThis Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is truly phenomenal. Chocolaty, hazelnutty (it’s a word today, okay?!), rich, but not too heavy—basically everything you want in a decadent dessert! Between testing, partying, and blogging, I’ve made five of these in the past week, and I am still having a hard time not sneaking bites and evening out edges.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeBasically, what I’m saying is make this, and/or come take cake #5 away from me 🙂🙃

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeHappy birthday, Smel!

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
makes one 9-inch cake

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate)
6 ounces (1 heaping cup) whole raw hazelnuts 
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar

Garnish:
3 ounces (heaping 1/2 cup) whole raw hazelnuts
7 tablespoons heavy cream
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a double boiler or the microwave, melt bittersweet chocolate. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.

Place hazelnuts on a dry, rimmed sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry, textured hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. This step does not have to be done perfectly.

Transfer hazelnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a fine meal forms. Set aside.

Place egg whites and salt in a very clean, dry large mixing bowl. Use a very clean, dry electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add egg yolks three at a time, mixing to combine. Add hazelnut meal in two installments, followed by room-temperature melted chocolate.

Use a silicone spatula to add 1/4 of the whipped egg whites to the batter, stirring as much as necessary to get them to incorporate.

Continue adding the whipped egg whites in 1/4 increments, gently folding them into the batter.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 23-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Top may still be a bit jiggly, but it will set as the cake cools. Let cake cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Release the cake. Line a dinner plate with foil. Dip a small knife in warm water and slowly run it around the edge of the pan, dipping again as necessary, to loosen the cake. Place the dinner plate, foil-side down, on top of the cake pan. Holding on to both the pan and the plate, quickly flip them over. Remove the pan and the parchment. Gently place a serving plate, top-side down, onto the bottom of the cake. Holding tightly to both plates (but not so much as to crush the cake), quickly revert. Remove the foil-lined dinner plate.

Prepare the garnish. Place hazelnuts on a dry, rimmed sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry, textured hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. Set aside to cool completely.

Warm cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, just until it simmers. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Let sit undisturbed until chocolate looks soft. Stir with a fork until smooth. Spread or drizzle ganache over the cake. Dot with toasted hazelnuts, as desired.

Chocolate will set a bit after 20 minutes. Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to three.

Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsI planned to post this recipe a year ago. I can’t tell you why it didn’t happen—I had written the recipe and a whole post. All I had to do was take some photos and hit “publish,” but instead I just let the file get buried in the digital depths of my iPad, never to be seen again…

Whole Grain Banana Muffins…until two weeks ago. I was searching for these Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars, but this recipe caught my eye instead. Long story short, I’ve made these Whole Grain Banana Muffins twice since rediscovering them, and let me tell you: they are freaking delicious. I mean, most banana baked goods are–mashed banana just has a way of making things wonderful–but these muffins have a little something extra.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsIt’s not some new product or anything. No, that’s not my style. There are no unusual ingredients in this recipe. Instead, its one little almost-no-effort step that makes these muffins truly spectacular:

Before you do anything else, spread the oats and walnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsYep, that’s it. That one little step is the difference between good muffins and great ones.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsOther than that, this recipe is exactly what you’d expect. Mix together some dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and leaveners) and some wet ingredients (oil, eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and just 2/3 cup light brown sugar). Whisk it all together with exactly ten strokes of the bowl. Add the toasty oats and walnuts and use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold everything together for another 10 strokes. Throw in some chocolate chips if you like, and fold for another five strokes.Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Why do we need to count strokes of the batter? This keeps the gluten from over-developing and making the muffins tough. When the gluten in the flour meets the liquid ingredients, it’s activated, meaning it starts forming the bonds that give baked goods structure and texture. If we stir/fold too much, we’ll end up with tough, chewy muffins, and nobody wants that. For tender muffins, keep your mixing to a maximum of 25 strokes.

Divide the batter amongst about 16 prepared muffin cups and bake for 16-18 minutes. Then let them cool in the pans for about ten minutes before turning them out and digging in.

These Whole Grain Banana Muffins are much more than the sum of their parts, y’all. They’re soft, tender, not too sweet, and full of nutty whole grain goodness from the whole wheat flour and toasted oats. Oh, and of course there’s all sorts of good flavor from the mashed ripe bananas, toasted walnuts, and chocolate chips! That’s my kind of breakfast treat 💗Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Whole Grain Banana Muffins
makes about 16 standard muffins

1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Toast the oats and walnuts. Place oats and walnuts (if using) on a rimmed baking sheet and spread to cover the surface. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn. Place pan on a rack to cool a bit.

Make the muffin batter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy (about 30-60 seconds). Whisk in light brown sugar, followed by oil, mashed bananas, and buttermilk. Add flour mixture and whisk 10 strokes. Add oats and nuts (which may still be warm) and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir an additional 10 strokes. Add optional chocolate chips and fold an additional 5 strokes. Batter may have a few small lumps.

Place about 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin cup; they should be about 2/3 full. Place full pan in the oven and bake 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the pan for ten minutes until removing to a rack to cool completely.

Bake any remaining batter, filling any unused muffin cups halfway with water to keep the pan from warping.

Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Note:

If you do not have buttermilk, you may make your own. Place 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk up to the 1/2 cup mark. Let mixture sit for five minutes, until curdled. Proceed with recipe as written.

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate CookiesI’m a vanilla person, but you sure wouldn’t know it by the way I wolfed down three of these cookies yesterday.

Double Chocolate CookiesDouble Chocolate Cookies have been a favorite of mine since childhood. When I was growing up, I was particularly fond of the version available in the bakery department of our local supermarket, but I haven’t had one of theirs in at least fifteen years, so I have no idea if they were actually any good (they probably weren’t). Regardless, I have many happy memories of snacking on them during our weekly grocery trips.

Double Chocolate CookiesIt’s tricky to make a good Double Chocolate Cookie. Add too much cocoa powder to the dough and you’ll end up with dry, crumbly results; don’t add enough and your cookies won’t have any flavor. Ugh. Since I am simply unwilling to resign myself to a life of subpar Double Chocolate Cookies, I take a note from Alice Medrich, arguably the queen of baking with chocolate.

Double Chocolate CookiesDouble Chocolate CookiesWhen she makes her Cocoa Brownies, Ms. Medrich begins by melting butter with cocoa powder and sugar. This technique is called blooming—it basically means infusing the butter with chocolate flavor. I’ve mentioned blooming before—it’s what makes my Matcha Chocolate Chip Cookies so delicious. It does the same thing in these Double Chocolate Cookies, giving the dough a rich chocolate flavor from the very start. This simple process is a bit unusual in cookie-baking, but it yields unmatched depth of flavor.

Double Chocolate CookiesThe rest of the dough-making process is fairly straightforward, and since the butter is melted, it doesn’t require a mixer 🙌🏻🙌🏻 Whisk eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, and salt into the chocolaty butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips before covering and chilling the dough for at least a couple of hours. Don’t skip the chill unless you want sad, lacy cookies that run all over your baking sheets!

Double Chocolate CookiesAfter the dough has firmed up a bit, scoop it in two tablespoon increments and bake for just shy of ten minutes. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before moving them to a rack. Make sure to let the baking sheets come back to room temperature before baking the rest of the cookies.

Double Chocolate CookiesOnce all the dough has been baked, grab a cookie or two (or three!) and prepare to fall in love with a freaking baked good. These Double Chocolate Cookies have super dense, soft centers and crisp-chewy edges. Thanks to the blooming technique, they’re basically like eating a fudgy brownie in cookie form 😍😍😍 It goes without saying that I am totally obsessed. Coming from a vanilla person, that means a lot.Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen medium cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Combine butter, cocoa powder, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Let melt together, stirring frequently, until no pieces of butter remain. Mixture will be grainy. Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Let cool 5-10 minutes.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Whisk eggs into liquid ingredients one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 9-10 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom at the 5 minute mark. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Allow the baking sheets to return to room temperature before baking the remaining dough.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.