No Tricks to These Treats

Have your pumpkin and eat it, too, with this simple recipe for Halloween pumpkin-oatmeal cookies.

Every October, I face the same dilemma: Do I purchase my pumpkin early in the month when the choices are best, or do I wait until just before Halloween so I can get a bargain and don’t have to trip over the pumpkin all month long?

I wait until the last minute and end up with a kind of misshapen, Charlie Brown version of a jack-o-lantern. The trick-or-treaters don’t seem to mind, and the irregular shapes can sometimes create very ghoulish grins.

What does bother me is when I see the mountains of pumpkins at stores and at farmers markets and realize that few, if any, will be used for food. It just seems like such a colossal waste, especially since I love the taste of pumpkin.

Of course, the variety of squash used for Halloween decorations is not ideal for cooking. For pies and cookies, you want to use the smaller “sugar” pumpkins; that’s the kind that finds its way into canned pumpkin.

But even if you do carve your pumpkin, there’s nothing to say that you can’t turn the remainder into puree that will flavor a Thanksgiving pie or some delicious pumpkin-oatmeal cookies.

Pumpkin-Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup Craisins
1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

To make the puree: Cut your pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and stringy center. Place the cut side down onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Allow to cool. Then, scrape the flesh away from the rind. Use a food processor to process in batches until smooth.

To make the cookies: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In your mixer, cream the butter or margarine with the sugars. Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin puree and blend well. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices.
With the mixer on low, add the dry mixture one cup at a time until it is mixed well. Stir in the nuts and Craisins. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-covered baking sheets. Press lightly with moistened fingers to flatten slightly.

Bake for 12 minutes or until light brown. Place on a cooling rack. Makes about four dozen.

Chris Fennimore is the director of programming at WQED and the producer/host for QED Cooks. Follow his blog on food and family at