The Great Pumpkin Cookies

Excitement runs through me like an electric current. In my little wooden desk with the yellow legs and red-painted pencil holder notch etched into the top, I shuffle in my seat, knocking my saddle shoes together and watching my frilly, white socks swish at my ankles under my desk while waiting for my mom to arrive. I smooth out the skirt of my blue and red plaid uniform dress tucking it under my legs while they swing back and forth. Just because it was October and my favorite month, I begged my mom earlier in the week to bring in cookies to my kindergarten class and now that the day is here, the wait is unbearable radiating inside my five-year-old body.

Upon arrival, Mom is a superhero with baked goods instead of a cape: Tall with dark, permed hair, a blue sweater with jeans, and white high top sneakers with scrunched-up socks, she holds a round, mustard-yellow Tupperware container -- the one that looks like the middle part of a daisy. After the class greets her enthusiastically, Mom announces that she has made a new type of cookie for the class to try. Playing into my excitement over October, she made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and I can see from my desk that they are round and plump, puffed up like little rust-colored footballs; just like the one Charlie Brown never successfully kicks in the comic strip.

My teacher, Mrs. Spellman--who always wears a beaded apple necklace over her jumpers and smells like chalk and honeysuckle--grabs a napkin and takes one enthusiastically off the top of the pile. Since they were my cookies by proxy, I take the next one and watch my mother start walking down the aisle past my desk to hand out the rest of the cookies. The chewy, cake-like consistency of the pumpkin cookie pulls me in while the melty, chocolate chips turn up the corners of my mouth in what can only be described as pure, cookie bliss.

During my internal cookie dialogue, I finally notice that the room is eerily silent, but not because every kid has their mouth full. No one else is eating so I stopped and looked around. Every one of my classmates had refused our cookies. They had clenched their mouths shut, crinkled up their noses, or shook their heads “No” at my mother while I sat quiet in my frilly socks, defeated by their treat rejection.

When we got in the car to go home, the daisy container was still very full and Mom vowed to never bring those cookies to school again. The rejection we felt that day was palpable. Thankfully, the cookies were too good to stop us from rolling our sleeves up every fall and making them again... just for us.

These are essentially Libby’s Great Pumpkin Cookies and they call for you to shape them into giant pumpkins, but we have only ever made these as spoon-and-drop cookies.

Great Pumpkin Cookies

Yields: About 2 dozen

2 c. flour

1 t. baking soda

½ t. salt

1 t. cinnamon

1 c. old-fashioned oats

1 c. butter, softened/room temperature

1 c. granulated sugar

1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

1 t. vanilla

1 c. pumpkin puree (fresh or canned, not pumpkin pie mix)

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or any chocolate you have on hand, I used a large dark chocolate bar broken up into large chunks)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients (first five) and set aside. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and pumpkin and mix well after each. Stir in chocolate chips. Using tablespoons or a cookie scoop, drop cookies (sized to your liking) onto a greased cookie sheet two inches apart.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on size, until cookies are firm around the edges and lightly browned.