Fiction-Food Café

September 18, 2018

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Raisin Cookies | Nightbooks

"She opened the door all the way, allowing Alex a view of a comfortable-looking couch and a coffee table piled with oatmeal-raisin cookies and pumpkin pie. Across from this cozy setup, a huge TV played the black-and-white images he longed to see: Barbara staggering toward the farmhouse, where she would be trapped for the rest of the movie, with zombies in hot pursuit. Alex took a step forward, entranced."

          I received the middlegrade novel Nightbooks by J. A. White (pub. July 24, 2018) in the August OwlCrate Jr. box, and it is such an enjoyable read. It's a modern folktale filled with creepiness and mystery, allusions to scary stories and fairy and folktales (like Arabian Nights, Baba Yaga, Hansel & Gretel), and a lot of good writing advise (the main character is a writer). The narrative unfolds well and keeps you guessing.
          There are also so many mentions of food in the story (stay-tuned for another recipe inspired by the book!). J. A. White said, "I think food is one of the things that links every single person in the world together, so I tend to include it in everything I write. Plus I’m a foodie, so there’s that!"
          Along with the actual food in the book (the excess of it for some characters and the lack of it for others) there is a theme of hunger and want in the story just like in the old folktales; both physical and emotional.

          Nightbooks is a stand-alone novel, tied up nicely at the end, but the possibilities introduced in the story make a nice set-up if the author ever did want to further the tale. Also, just FYI, when I asked J. A. White what Nightbooks would be if it was a food he said, "a Halloween pumpkin chock full of every variety of candy!" I like it. This book is perfect for the Halloween season. ;)

Note: The trick to using pumpkin purée, fresh or canned, is to squeeze out the juice because there is a lot of water content. When you squeeze out the juice you can save it and stir in a little agave syrup or simple syrup and you've got yourself a little serving of pumpkin juice right out of Harry Potter! Haha, two recipes in one (though it will be a very little bit of juice, unless you want to squeeze all of your purée). Important to note though is that you get the most juice if you use a cloth instead of paper towels which will simply absorb the juice.
          For the butter in the recipe below, you certainly don't have to brown it, but that gives it a nice flavor. ;) You can also forego the butter all-together to go dairy-free and use melted coconut oil instead!

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

(Makes about 8-10 cookies)
1/2 C Flour (you can also use a flour substitute)
1/2 C Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger (to taste)
1/4 C Butter, browned (*see below)
1/4 C Light Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Packed Pumpkin Purée, juice squeezed out (**see below)
1 Tbsp. Well Mashed Banana
2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup or Maple Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/3 C Packed Raisins (Craisins would also be good, & walnuts, too)

Directions: In a large bowl whisk the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, & spices. Make a well in the center & set aside until needed.

*Cube 1/4 Cup of butter & put it into a small pot on medium heat. Let it melt & cook until it turns light brown in color & smells nutty. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl & then stir in the brown sugar until well combined. Next, stir in the mashed banana, syrup, & vanilla extract. Set aside until the pumpkin purée is ready to add.

**Measure out 1/4 cup of pumpkin purée onto a cheese cloth, flour sack cloth, or 4 layers of paper towel. If using cloth, gather up it up around the pumpkin & squeeze well over a cup to get out the water content. If using paper towel, fold the layers over the purée & press. The object is to get out as much liquid as you can, so the purée ends up with a texture a bit like clay. Measure out another 1/4 cup of purée & repeat (it's easier to do 1/4 cup at a time). Measure the squeezed purée to see if you have 1/4 cup, packed. If not, squeeze some more.
Stir the squeezed pumpkin purée into the butter/sugar/etc. mixture until well combined.

Scoop the wet mixture into the well of the dry mixture & fold the dry over the wet just until there is no more dry flour & the mixture has come together.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF & line a large baking tray with parchment paper or a silat.
Separate the mixture into ~2 Tbsp. balls & space them out about 1 1/2" on the tray. Flatten the balls into discs about 1/2" thick. (This recipe makes 8-10 cookies, but if you want more you can make 1 Tbsp. balls instead.)

Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes & let cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Eat warm or room temperature. Great with tea, & a scary movie! Store in an airtight container on the counter.

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