The story of these cookies starts in the fall of 1988.
That was the fall our Uncle S got married and Katie and I got to be flower girls. Is there anything in life a five year-old girl wants more? No sir!
It was a simple wedding - just two attendants, flower girls with wreathes in their hair, and an outdoor reception at the bride's childhood home. Looking back on that day, I remember so many things - the cool breeze in the air, the slightly sticky feel of the bouquet in my hands, and how funny it looked to see my dad and grandpa dressed up in suits. I thought it was one of the most beautiful days of my whole (though as of yet, rather short) life.
Of course, the most important part of that day was what we all gained from it - a new member of the family.
I've looked up to my Aunt M ever since that day - a woman who didn't mind that her husband's best man was a woman; whose family welcomed our family into theirs; and whose own wedding spoke of her overall approach to life - simple, and in its simplicity, beautiful.
Aunt M, for example, makes homemade gift tags for Christmas presents. She serves AMAZING homemade soup and sandwiches at family gatherings. And she's not afraid to speak her mind or ask a question that needs to be asked. These are small, but important things.
It was at a family gathering a few years after Uncle S and Aunt M's wedding that I first "met" Aunt M's pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Now, mind you, it was the chocolate that tempted me, not the pumpkin - autumn squash isn't exactly what a kid looks for in her sweets. But one bite and I was hooked. You might say that on that day, Aunt M and her family of baking women set the bar against which I would someday measure my own baking prowess. Excellence, indeed.
To me, these cake-like cookies say "autumn is here", and "everything is better with chocolate chips", and "you know you can't resist me so just give in and eat me now".
But they also remind me that goodness and beauty are found in simplicity. Like Aunt M and Uncle S's wedding, it's the love you put into it, not the fancy-schmancy-ness that counts. This recipe is one of the simplest I've ever encountered, and the cookies are ready to devour in less than an hour. And devour them you will.
I always say that I get a lot of my baking skills from Aunt M, and even though we're technically not blood relatives, I'm proud to call this a family recipe. You're a lucky man, Uncle S, a mighty lucky man, indeed, and I thank you for bringing such a wonderful person into our lives.
In tribute to you and Aunt M, I shall now eat a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie (or maybe two or three). Join me!
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Family recipe via Aunt M
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 teaspoon cream or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 1.5 cups chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. Using a mixer on low speed, combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg in a large bowl (or, just stir with a wooden spoon).
3. Add remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and blend until well combined.
4. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Spoon heaping tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets 2.5 inches apart. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until bottoms brown ever so slightly and top doesn't dent when pressed with a knife.
6. Cool cookies on cookie sheet one minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in airtight container up to five days.