The results are in from the ZIX Cookies test kitchen for the 3 Pumpkin Spice cookies.
Here are the basic relationships between the primary ingredients for each of the three tested recipes.
Pumpkin flavor: All cookies used pumpkin puree from the same sugar pumpkin picked within a few blocks of the test kitchen. The pumpkin was prepared for puree by first splitting the squash, cleaning out the seeds and then roasting it, face down, on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven. When completely baked, the edge of the pumpkin has a nice browned caramel flavored edge. This browned edge adds extra flavor in the pureed pumpkin that was processed in a food processor.
The pumpkin flavor was not as pronounced in this cookie and also had the lowest percentage of pumpkin to all other key ingredients. Some tasters said the cookie was a bit dry and cakey. I was likely responsible for the dry texture but the cakeiness likely came from the higher percentages of butter and flour. Also Cookie #1 had a ¼ cup of milk in the recipe.
The spicing was more prominent in this cookie. Tasters liked the moisture level and rated this the best overall; a real gift box cookies.
The texture of this cookie was the most talked about attribute; kind of rubbery or, a bit more positively, a bit chewy without being grainy. The frosting on this recipe was rated highest. Surprising in that this recipe was simply powdered sugar, butter, heavy cream and vanilla. Recipe #1 frosting added cream cheese and didn’t draw much attention from the tasters.
Ah Ha moment:
I’ve been puzzling over the pumpkin-ness of the cookies over the past couple weeks; how to drive more natural pumpkin flavor into the cookies and, at the same time, maintaining a great texture.
I have come up with an idea that should had that flavor and provide a bonus textural boost to the cookie; taking it from good to great.
My idea is to steam some pumpkin slices and then cover them with granulated sugar and dehydrate them until they attain a chewy texture. I’ll then chop up these chewy and slightly sweet pumpkin slices into bits and add them to the cookie dough. For a recipe with 2-2 ½ cups of flour, I’ll add ¾ cup of chopped candied pumpkin.
Next step: creating the new recipe!