Pumpkin Cookies: An Ode to November


Like everyone here at the Attic, autumn is my favorite season. It’s a time of year that fills me with cozy calm, with its crisp temperatures and its golden leaves, its pumpkins and its plentiful traditions. A little wholesome, a little dark, it speaks to me more than any other time of year.

Even though I grew up Stateside, I never really did autumn the “American” way. I have one hazy memory of an apple orchard and another hazy one of a pumpkin patch. I don’t remember the pumpkins themselves, but I remember being terrified of a giant nighttime bonfire and having to ride in a hay wagon with children I did not know. The day was orchestrated by my then-stepmother, and as it turned out she was secretly practicing voodoo shortly thereafter, it isn’t really clear to my dramatic brain whether that memory is of family fun or of something else altogether (it was probably family fun). 

We didn’t bake anything with the pumpkins that supposedly came away from that trip, and I don’t think I ate much pumpkin as a kid. My American grandmother didn’t really cook with them, and I don’t even think pumpkin pie was a mainstay at our family Thanksgiving table. In fact, my only memory of eating pumpkin is a desert my Turkish grandmother would make with beautifully caramelised pumpkins and walnuts, but that’s an Attic treat for another day. 

Autumn, instead, has always been about November to me. Early sunsets and long weekends spent in Michigan, riding horses with my godmother and settling in to watch films while the adults went to the opera (often begging to go with). Listening to Sade on long drives, velvet dresses, and walks in the woods with my childhood dog. Everything is cozy, filled with corduroy and Indian takeaway and crisp, crisp leaves.

Nothing about it, though, is straightforward. There were as many outdoor activities as in, art gallery openings in the city, along with weekends in the country. Thanksgiving was celebrated, but different foods and traditions were mixed into the holiday weekend – Turkish, German, Indian. It made up a thoughtful, multicultural holiday and season that I’m trying to reclaim now, as an adult who’s made a home in a new country.

An interesting part of that reclamation, of trying to weave a new, multicultural autumn tradition together has been that I’ve embraced some of the American clichés I rejected as a teenager. For years now, I’ve been learning to bake with apples and pumpkins in order to capture their promised coziness on a plate. I’ve made lot of improvised apple crumbles and a lot of pumpkin bread, and once a year, a massive oatmeal pumpkin cookie recipe. It’s an easy, cozy recipe and it can be filled with chocolate chips.

The night I made them, I served them with warm whisky cocktails and and we all sat around eating cookies by candlelight late into the night. Just my kind of autumn cozy.

pumpkin cookies warm whisky.jpg

Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

2 and 1/4 cups (295g) all-purpose flour

2 and 1/4 cups (190g) oats

1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 heaped teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, whisk together:

1 cup pumpkin purée

1 cup (220g) brown sugar

1/2 (100 g) cup granulated sugar

1 cup (240 ml) melted unsalted butter

Then slowly add:

1/3 cup (113g) molasses or honey (this time, I used honey)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk until well-combined. Stir in dry ingredients one cup at a time. Bask in the smell of it all. Add 1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Or not. This time, I made half a batch with chocolate chips and half a batch without to indulge my increasing chocolate intolerance, and they were both equally good!

Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Once rested, preheat oven to 350°F/175°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you want big cookies like I do, then use a tablespoon to form little balls of dough. Otherwise (I’ve learned my Europeans don’t like big cookies), then use a teaspoon. Leave 1 inch/2.5cm between each cookie on the baking sheet. They won’t spread too much and will keep the irregular scooped form, but still best not to crowd them!

Bake 12 minutes and transfer to a wire wrack to cool. Repeat until no more dough remains.