Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Guest Blogger Mystery Author Cleo Coyle: (Sleuth-Worthy) Chocolate Fudge Pumpkin Cookies
A former journalist, Cleo Coyle is the pseudonym for a multi-published author and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer. In collaboration with her husband, Cleo pens two popular series for Penguin. The Coffeehouse Mysteries are a series of light, amateur sleuth culinary mysteries set in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse, the first of which, On What Grounds, is now in its sixteenth printing. The tenth book in the series, Murder by Mocha, which includes an appendix of chocolate recipes, is a national bestseller. Under the name Alice Kimberly, Cleo also writes the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. You can find out more at Cleo’s virtual coffeehouse: www.CoffeehouseMystery.com
CLEO COYLE: (Sleuth-Worthy) Chocolate Fudge Pumpkin Cookies
First, I must take a moment to thank Janet and her excellent blog for being such an inspiration to me. In the acknowledgments of my new Coffeehouse Mystery, Murder by Mocha, I gave a more official shout-out to Dying for Chocolate for sharing so much wonderful food for thought. Thanks again, Janet!
As for today’s chocolate recipe, I hope you’ll find it worthy of a sleuth. Why? Because these fudgy cookies have the flavor and texture of gooey chocolate brownies, yet they are lower in fat than a typical cookie. By sneaking in an entire can of pureed pumpkin, I’m able to replace all of the shortening in the recipe while simultaneously bringing iron, dietary fiber, and vitamins A, C, and E to the Halloween party.
Here's how the recipe came about. Last year, I posted my recipe for Chocolate Hurricane Muffins. (Click here to get the recipe in a PDF format).
These quick-and-easy muffins are made by adding mashed bananas (along with a few other ingredients) to a cake mix starter. The bananas add nice flavor while also cutting down on the amount of fat.
One of my Coffeehouse Mystery readers (Sue) liked my muffins and dropped me an e-mail about another recipe that uses a chocolate cake mix starter: Weight Watcher Chocolate Pumpkin muffins.
To make these 2-ingredient muffins, you mix one box of chocolate cake mix with one 15-ounce can of pureed pumpkin. That’s it. The recipe sounded odd, but I gave it a try anyway. The muffins seemed on the heavy side for me, and I thought it would work better in smaller bites, which is why I adapted it into today's fudge brownie-like drop cookie.
And there you have it, the origin of today’s healthier Halloween recipe. With thanks to Sue and Weight Watchers for the inspiration. It's a treat that’s not a trick to make (as long as you have a can opener).
CLEO COYLE’S CHOCOLATE FUDGE PUMPKIN COOKIES with EASY PUMPKIN GLAZE
To download this recipe in a PDF format that you can print, save, or share, click here.
1 box (18.25 ounces) of Devil’s Food cake mix
1 can (15 ounces) pureed pumpkin (100% pumpkin and not pie filling)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or equivalent of chopped chocolate)
Cleo’s Pumpkin Glaze (recipe below)
Step 1 – Make Batter: First pre-heat oven to 350º F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray or grease with oil or butter. (For best results, do not use parchment paper. The cookie batter needs to feel the full heat of the baking pan.) In a mixing bowl, combine entire box of cake mix with canned pumpkin and vanilla. Do not add any additional liquid. Gently stir, working the canned pumpkin into the cake mix until a blended, wet batter forms. (This may take a minute but trust me, it will work.) Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.
Step 2 – Drop and Bake: Drop batter by tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in a well pre-heated 350º F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not over-bake. Cookies should be a bit gooey in the center. While warm, they will be very soft on the outside, as well. Allow them to cool on the pan a few minutes and then transfer carefully to a rack to finish cooling. (They will always be somewhat soft because these are gooey fudge brownie cookies, not hard or crunchy cookies.)
Step 3 - Decorate: Finish with a drizzle of Cleo’s Pumpkin Glaze (recipe below).
A note on storing: Because pumpkin takes the place of shortening in these cookies, they are best eaten within a day or two. Store in refrigerator.
CLEO’S EASY PUMPKIN GLAZE
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (*see note below to make your own)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Food coloring (orange OR red and yellow to make orange)
2 cups powdered sugar
Step 1 - In a medium saucepan, combine butter, water, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and food coloring. Heat slowly, stirring until butter melts. At no time should this mixture simmer or boil.
Step 2 - Add the powdered sugar and stir until it all completely melts into the liquid. Whisk to remove any lumps and blend into a smooth, thick glaze. If the glaze is too thick, whisk in a bit more water.
Step 3 - While the glaze is still warm, use a fork to drizzle it over the cookies. As the glaze cools, it will harden. If the glaze hardens in the pan, simply return the pan to the stove top and warm the glaze while whisking. If needed, add a bit more water to thin the glaze back to the right consistency for drizzling.
*SPICE NOTE: Pumpkin pie spice is available in most grocery store spice sections. To make your own, simply mix the following ground spices for 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
To download more of Cleo’s recipes, sign up to win free coffee, or learn about Cleo’s national bestselling Coffeehouse Mysteries, visit her online coffeehouse at: http://www.CoffeehouseMystery.com
Photos: Cleo Coyle