It all started back in 2011 after Japan was struck by a devastating tsunami. A handful of home bakers and food bloggers felt for the people suffering in the wake of this natural disaster and put together a massive citywide bake sale to raise money for their relief. I was still pretty new to Austin so I thought volunteering at one of the sales might be a good way to meet new people while helping out a good cause.
This was one instance where I really struck gold. I ended up meeting several people that day that are now among my closest friends in Austin. But the bigger picture went far beyond me and my social circle. Austin Bakes has since continued to raise funds for disaster relief, growing from a few tiny tables to an event that spans our entire city. This plucky little band of volunteers has helped out people all over the world and here in Texas.
Since their first bake sale in 2011, Austin Bakes has raised over $50,000! That, my friends, is a lot of cookies.
So you still might be wondering what that figure has to do with THESE cookies. Austin Bakes is where I fell in love with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I'm not sure who bakes the cookies that stole my heart, but I can tell you that I went through quite a few recipes looking for one that captured the soft cake-like texture and mild spice I loved so well. When I think of these cookies I think of Austin Bakes, and how marvelous it is to see people coming together to do something good.
Austin Bakes is gearing up for another sale soon – this time to help out with the refugee crisis currently going on in Europe. Mark your calendars for Sunday, November 14, and follow Austin Bakes on their site and on Facebook to keep up with news, or to find out how YOU can volunteer. Bakers of all skill levels are invited to donate goodies, and eaters of all skill levels are needed to help run tables, shop, and spread the word.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe shared courtesy of Sandra L. Oliver via the Bangor Daily News (with a few small tweaks from me)
Makes five to six dozen small cookies
These little beauties are more cake than cookie, with a soft, pillowy bite and an almost too-sweet flavor. I like to balance their sweetness by using dark chocolate chips and going a little heavy on the salt. Depending on the size of your cookies the bake time may vary a little. In my experience they can tolerate being over-cooked a bit so when in doubt let them brown up a bit more.
- 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin or about 2 cups of roasted pumpkin puree (recipe here)
- 2 teaspoons milk
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil (or any mild tasting oil like coconut or grape seed)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 cups all-purpose (or whole wheat) flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 12 ounces dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease cookie sheets lightly or line them with silpat or parchment.
- Stir together the pumpkin, milk and baking soda.
- Add eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla and mix very well.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and spice and add to the pumpkin mix.
- Fold in the chocolate chip.
- Drop by large teaspoonfuls on the cookie sheet. The cookies do not spread very much so you can place them very close together.
- Bake for 12 – 15 minutes of until the edges begin to brown and the cookies appear dry and firm.