Bake Pumpkin Cookies for Halloween

pumpkin cookies

Pumpkin cookies with chocolate kisses

When were chocolate kisses invented?  How did we survive without them? Particularly when making cookies like these luscious soft, mildly spicy, pumpkin cookies. Go straight for the chocolate, or take bites around the edges and let each bite melt in your mouth before munching the chocolate–either way this is just about the perfect cookie.

Actually Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, have been around since 1907. [In 1907, my mother was one year old and my father had not yet been born. So not only have Kisses been around my entire life, but my parents’ as well.] While that article I linked in the previous sentence talks about red green and silver foil for Christmas, we know that not only have the foil colors expanded, but kisses are no longer limited to dark brown milk chocolate. Flavors this time of year include pumpkin spice kisses!

Naturally, the Hershey company encourages you to bake with their chocolate (or other flavors) kisses.  Their website shares some great recipes.

I am still in my pumpkin phase, and wanted to use up some of that pureed pumpkin I made from baked pie pumpkins.  To kick it up a bit, I added a kiss to each cookie. But being a traditionalist, I used milk chocolate kisses.

You can make pumpkin cookies with a glaze, with cream cheese frosting, with maple frosting (Mmmmm, that sounds good!) , with chocolate chips and/or nuts inside the cookies or leave them clean.

While you can find several recipes on line, I particularly like this one because it offers a solution to how in the world can you store cookies with kisses on top?  After all they have a pretty point on top and that is bound to get broken when you stack the cookies with the tip pointing up.

[Spoiler Alert] Brilliant solution:  turn the kisses upside down.

Pumpkin Cookies

Serves 24-30
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 12 minutes
Total time 22 minutes
Allergy Egg, Wheat
Meal type Dessert
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin (canned or freshly baked)
  • 2 cups flour

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or lightly grease.
2. Beat butter with electric mixer until smooth.
3. Beat in brown sugar
4. Stir or beat in pumpkin, spices, vanilla, egg
5. Whisk together baking soda and baking powder with flour, and then beat the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.
6. Drop by tablespoon unto cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on edges and firm on top.
7. Take from cookie sheet onto cooling rack. Place a chocolate kiss upside down in center of each cookie and let cool.

 

Stuffed Pumpkin: Savory or Sweet

Pie Pumpkins

Pie Pumpkinsl for baking stuffed pumpkin

Our pioneer grandmothers cooked a lot of pumpkins before they could get their proper gardens going.  Do you suppose they ever got bored with plain slices of pumpkin or mashed pumpkin?

I have been experimenting with some of those cute little pie pumpkins, and decided to share with you two stuffed pumpkin recipes, although the directions are pretty vague.  You may have tried out the macaroni baked in a pie pumpkin, but if you did not, you might want to look back there for more info on pie pumpkins and how they differ from the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins.

Not only did I make stuffed pumpkins, I  also baked a couple of the pie pumpkins and scoop out the meat, which I pureed with my hand blender. I used the puree in cookies (recipe coming soon) and waffles.

Now that you understand the benefits of pie pumpkins–here we go with two other ideas for using the pie pumpkins for stuffed pumpkin dishes.

Savory Stuffed Pumpkins

My savory stuffed pumpkins started with a box of Baby Bella Mushrooms. I only needed seven for one pumpkin.

Mushrooms

Baby bell mushrooms

After buttering the inside of the pumpkins, I chopped the mushrooms and added a little salt, a little thyme and a lot of parsley.

Mushroom mixture for stuffed pumpkin

Mushroom mixture

Next, I cut the tops off the pie pumpkins, the same way I would if making a Jack-o-lantern.  Then I scooped out the seeds and stringiest part of the interior. [Note: this is the only hard part of these recipes.  Some people keep the seeds and roast them.  Personally, I don’t want to keep finding the stringy stuff connected to the seeds. If you have found an easy way to clean the seeds, please let me know!]

After I loosely packed the mushrooms into the pumpkin shell, I poured in about 1/3 cup of half and half. Then it occurred to me that a bit of cheese would be good, so I added what I had on time–a slice of mozzarella. [NOTE: BAD CHOICE.  Next time I will use a more melty cheese like Gouda or maybe goat cheese.] I topped the pumpkin/cheese stuffed pumpkin with the “lid”.

Stuffed pumpkin with lids

Two pumpkins with lids ready to bake

After baking on a foil-lined cookie sheet at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, it looked like this. (Time will vary. Check by sticking a fork into the meat of the pumpkin. When it goes in easily, the pumpkin is done.)

Baked stuffed pumpkin

Baked mushroom-cheese pumpkin

Sweet Stuffed Pumpkin

Next, I decided to use up a single large apple I had in the refrigerator.  I chopped it and mixed with a little brown sugar, some cinnamon and nutmeg. It went into another pumpkin that I had hollowed out and smeared on the inside with some butter.

 

Stuffed pumpkin ready to bake

Popped the lid on the top and baked the apple-stuffed pumpkin along with the mushroom-stuffed pumpkin.

apple stuffed pumpkin

baked apple stuffed pumpkin

Both of these dishes turned out pretty well, but don’t make my mistakes:

Mistake number one:  I let the pumpkins sit on the shelf too long before I baked them, and they got stringier than they should have been.  Use them when they are fresh as possible.

Mistake number two:  As mentioned above–use a melty cheese on top of the mushrooms.

One more warning–you must have mushroom fans in your family if you serve the savory version of stuffed pumpkin.  This is all about mushrooms!!

I confess this is not a vintage or historic recipe, however, I can imagine grandmothers actually baking apples in pumpkins, since they relied so much on pumpkins in the frontier. Plus I mentioned once before a pumpkin-apple pie recipe so we know that combination would be one that earlier ancestors in aprons would have used.

Grandfather Anderson: Who IS That Man?

Leonard Guy Anderson (1878-1944)

Leonard Guy Anderson

Leonard Guy Anderson in Tintype. Exact date unknown.

Sometimes when I look at an earlier photo of a relative I knew in their old age, I do not recognize them. More often when I say “Who are you?” I am wondering what kind of person they were.  In this case, I am wondering why my grandfatherAnderson, would have struck this insouciant pose for the camera.  What a sexy guy.  Looks like he would be fun to be around.

You can see that his eyes are pale–described as gray in his World War I draft registration, but as blue when he is 64 and fills out the World War II registration. The high-heeled shoes may have been the style, but a guy only 5’8″ certainly welcomed the extra height.

You can read the outline of the earlier years of his life in my previous post, A Cooking (And Living) Tip from my Grandfather Anderson.

World War II Years

That previous story ended in 1930s, so I wanted to fill you in on the rest of his life. The restaurant that I picture at the top of Ancestors in Aprons welcomed visitors from approximately 1938 to 1943. When the nation began recruiting for war, Daddy Guy filled out a draft card, even though at 64, he would not be called up for service.  No doubt he believed he could fight as well as those 20 year olds. The draft card tells us that he was 5’8″ tall and weight 140 lbs –as I said in the previous post, small but feisty.

Illness Strikes Grandfather Anderson

His age caught up with him in a frightening way in February 1943, when pains in his chest were severe enough to send him to the hospital. He returned home much weaker in body, but not in spirit.

 

Guy Anderson  August 1943, Killbuck, 6 months after his heart attack. This is the Daddy Guy that I remember.

In August, 1943, Guy and Vera threw a big party to honor their son Petty Officer William Anderson and were fortunate to have the other military members of the family attend as well. And leave me with a priceless photograph.

Anderson Family gathering August 1943

Right after the party, Guy and Vera went to New Philadelphia to visit with their daughter Harriette and family (my family.)  My father, Paul Kaser, had just taken a job in Iowa, and in the fall of that year, my grandmother Vera wrote frequently to us and I have most of those letters.

Making Ends Meet

Vera took in roomers on the 2nd floor of their big house, and worked on weekends at the movie theater.  They worried about their son William, and they worried about money. Guy, who had previous careers as a farmer, owner of a hardware store, owner of a auto repair shop, co-owner with Vera of a boarding house and then a restaurant, did not give in easily to being an invalid. (Pictures in the previous post, A Cooking (And Living) Tip from my Grandfather Anderson.)

Anderson Restaurant

Restaurant Crew–Mrs. Endsley, Vera and Guy Anderson Circa 1938. Check out those APRONS on ANCESTORS!

He worked odd jobs like helping people with painting, and kept looking for work.

Grandfather Anderson Job Hunting

In September, 1943, Vera writes to her daughter, Harriette who has just moved to Iowa.

[Thursday Sept. 23, 1943]Dad got notice to come and take ex. for work at Good Year in Millersburg today at 60¢ an hr.  He is all excited about it.  I wonder if he will pass.  I think we could get along but he seems to want to try and that will be a good way for him to find out.  I hope he can for it would be better for him to being doing something and I think he would be happier. 

However, in her next letter, on the following Monday, Vera writes:

Dad thought he had a job.  They called him and told him to bring birth certificate, Social Security Card and come up [to Millersburg] so he did and they said you goo to Dr. Cole for examination and come back here in morning at 7:30.  So he did but when they opened the letter from Cole, The man said he was very sorry but Dr. said no. He had a bad heart and there wasn’t anything they could do. Dad was awful disappointed.

Mr. Williamson said for him to come up to [his] place and see if he could stand to make crates.  He could work just as fast as he wanted to as it would be piece work.  So I guess he will try that.

It probably added to his depression about not getting the job when Vera was hired by Goodyear in October. I will write more later about Vera as a Rosie the Riveter.

Guy writes to Harriette on October 16 and says,

I may get a job caring for the Parks in Holmes Co. $125 [per month] year around.  I am afraid of inflation. Mom working and if I get parks I can work for Williamson about 4 days a week but just so it doesn’t inflate Mom’s slacks, I don’t care.

His corny joke about “Mom’s slacks” follows his earlier show of disgust in the letter about Vera having to wear slacks to her job at Goodyear. His remark and attitude reveal  the changes wrought in society by the Rosie the Riveters going to work during the war years.

Note:  He did get the parks maintenance job. I know because I accompanied Grandma and Grandpa Anderson on their rounds as they picked up litter, mopped out the restrooms and emptied trash cans in the little roadside parks in Holmes County.

On October 25th Vera mentions Guy’s work in another letter to Harriette.

Mr. Williamson sent his first 2000 crates in and got another order but hasn’t the lumber yet for them.  If Dad didn’t try to beat everyone else I think it would be nice. He hasn’t felt so hot for a couple of days.

Despite his illness, he continues not only to work, but to compete with the other guys making crates.

During the year of 1944, My mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, gathered me up and we boarded a train for Killbuck for the duration of his illness.  In April, Rhema Anderson Fair and her husband visited and in July, Vera’s sister, Maude Stout Bartlett visited. Obviously the family members were worried.

In July 1944, Ruth Fair, wife of grandson Frank Fair gave birth to a son–the first great-grandchild of Vera and Guy.

The Final Illness

But that was the only great-grandchild my grandfather Anderson would ever know about, because on July 2 he was hospitalized again, staying more than three weeks.  According to the Coshocton Tribune, he was dismissed on July 26 to go home.  The next day he died at home.

My mother and I had been in Killbuck with Vera for a while, living upstairs. The adults tried to keep me (five years old) out of the way as they laid out Daddy Guy for viewing in the living room of the house.  Because my Uncle Herbert’s kids were allowed to say goodbye to Daddy Guy, I complained that I was old enough and besides he was MY grandpa, too. I finally won the battle and was allowed to go downstairs where adults sat around the living room, and Grandfather Anderson slept on a bier.

It seemed that the energetic, always busy Guy was finally still.

The Missing Years

But we started this story with a picture of the young carefree Guy.  I know very little about that photo like the date or  place. Family legend says that he went to California to attend an academy at some point, but academy usually meant high school, so he would have been younger, I think.  The other story that might be related to this picture, has him bringing home a parrot from somewhere–maybe Mexico–which he gave to Vera and which my mother remembered living in their house on the old Anderson farm in the early 1900s.

I have no school pictures of Guy, except the one of him with a friend that looks like a high school graduation picture.

Guy Anderson

Guy Anderson as a young man.

My Grandfather Anderson would have graduated high school in about 1897, but I have no information on him until he married Lillis Bird in 1898. Was he briefly involved in the Spanish American War? The time period is correct, but surely some information would have survived.  His whole youth, unfortunately is still a mystery, as is that devil-may-care tintype photo. One of the mysteries is that I have no other photos in which he has a mustache. I console myself that there could be worse images to remember my grandfather by! And maybe that is all I need to know about him.

How I am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher) is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson (Kaser} who is the daughter of
  • Leonard Guy Anderson

Notes on Research