Tough Cookie #1: Pumpkin Spice & All Things Nice

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. – Carl Sagan

This quote cracks me up every time. I’m a decent cook and I can come up with interesting flavor combinations in my head. But, I neither have the time, nor the energy to reinvent the wheel… errr, pie. ūüôā Recently, I discovered the simple pleasure of baking and I have to say, I’m hooked. My cooking posts will be labled ‘Tough Cookie’ because I like baking cookies. It is simple, scrumptious and I’ve found that if you substitute the right ingredients, you can actually bake a healthy cookie which surprisingly tastes good too.

Tonight as I walked home, the crisp autum air reminded me of my college¬†days on the campus of¬†UNC. I started thinking about the Carolina fall, the leaves changing colors and the¬†flavors of this transcending season. Pumpkin Pie!¬†Carrot Cake! Yummmm… I¬†instantly wanted to combine the 2 flavors into¬†a¬†bite size¬†treat. The result: Meet my Pumpkin Carrot Mini Muffins with Gooey Cream Cheese Frosting! These are so delicious that I couldn’t stop eating them.¬†Here’s the kicker- they are super easy to make with only¬†3 ingredients. NO KIDDING!

I had a packet of carrot cake mix in my pantry and I picked up a can of pumpkin puree. Wisk¬† them together in a¬†large bowl¬†with as much pumpkin pie spice as you can handle. Bake¬†for 20-24mins (depending on your oven)¬†at 350 degrees. And voila! The most flavorful, moist, mini muffins you can imagine, right out of your oven. I made 2 dozen of these suckers and can’t wait to take them to work tomorrow. The cream cheese frosting (optional)¬†just added that extra home-made¬†touch, don’t you think?!

A few suggestions: If your batter is too thick, you can add a little bit of milk or water to loosen it up. You can also add applesauce if you have them along with any nuts, raisins, cranberrys, chocolate chips etc. Make it your own and have fun with it and most importantly, share with someone you love.

I was very proud of my creation and decided I wanted to experiment with the batter some more… I should’ve stopped while I was ahead, but hey if you can’t play with your food, then what’s the point of being a grown up? ūüėČ Here is a bonus recipe.

I had half of the batter left and I thought why not try to bake them into cookies, which meant I had to thicken the batter. I looked around my pantry and found a box of instant oatmeal and desicated unsweetened¬†coconut flakes.¬†Fantastic! I added 2 packets of the oatmeal and about a cup of coconut. The batter was starting to thicken. Then, I went a bit nuts… literally! I chopped up some walnuts, almonds and peanuts along with some raisins and goji berries, and added them to my batter. I chilled the batter for about 15 mins to get it nice and ready and spooned chunky dollops onto a nicely greased baking sheet. I baked them for about 12-13mins at 350 degrees.

The first time around I didn’t try to flaten the dough- BIG MISTAKE. The¬†initial batch baked up in the exact shape of my dollop. The edges were crispy, but it looked more like a misshapen ball than a cookie. Oh well, it is cake batter after all, but the taste was spot on, so¬†those are getting devoured by yours truly. I baked 2 more batches, made sure to flaten them with a cold spoon and ended up with about 2 dozen, tasty pumpkin spice cookies. The raisins and oatmeal, combined with the carrots and pumpkin really worked well together and I just remembered that¬†no butter was added to this recipe! That is¬†a winner in my book.

There you have it, friends… 2 easy to¬†bake, no frills¬†pumpkin recipes just in time for the holidays! Hope you enjoy thems as much as I did. Thank you for stopping by.

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