Pumpkin, pumpkin!

The week before Halloween, the weather turned fast. In the span of a weekend, I turned off the pool and the sprinklers and turned on the fireplace! I had to laugh at the response I heard around me; I can’t begin to tell you how many people told me about their new-change-of-season night-time apparel. It is cozy flannel and comfort food season and even though the summer wasn’t terribly oppressive or long, there was a sense of excitement at the rejuvenation that the rain brings to the sun-baked hills of the East Bay. The earth and the people seemed to be sighing collectively in relief.

I’ve been drinking West Cape Chai like it is water. Nothing warms my insides better! I love the creamy milk and the spices make my mouth sing. My son, Joseph, thought I was drinking hot chocolate on the way to school one morning this week and feeling left out grabbed my mug. Instead of being upset to discover it wasn’t hot chocolate, he was elated. “This is so good, Mommy!” he repeated over and over as he consumed my chai. I nearly had to resort to fisticuffs to get my mug back before it was all gone!

Do you know what else I love about this time of year? It just screams pumpkin! Adding pumpkin to pancakes or making pumpkin muffins or bread or cookies or pie or lattes… it is the rule of the day. I can’t get enough of pumpkin! I just stumbled across a recipe for Pumpkin Swirled-Cream Cheese Brownies that looks decadent (I’ll let you know if it is as good as it looks!) and another for Pumpkin Risotto Bites (which combines two of my favorite foods in one… hooray!). Recipes forthwith pending the tasting board of approval.

I have to confess something. I have been dying to somehow combine West Cape Chai (the organic, fair trade rooibos-based chai that Compassion Tea recently added to its line-up) and pumpkin into something. BUT WHAT!

A walk through the Halloween candy aisle at the local grocery looking for candy corn led me to the solution! Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses! I tweaked the thumbprint recipe a bit using chai instead of peanut butter and this is what I got!

Ingredients:
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (next time, I might try browning the butter first to add that nutty flavor)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup West Cape chai prepared (I made 1 cup milk, 1 cup water, 2 tbsp. of chai, simmered on the stovetop for 5 minutes. That way, I could have my chai and drink it, too!)
• 1 large egg
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp West Cape chai ground with mortar and pestle
• approximately 24 Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses
Preparation:
Cream the butter and sugar for about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, prepared chai, and vanilla. Mix until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Using your hands, roll the dough into approximately 24 1 inch round balls. Place the dough balls on parchment paper lined baking sheets and sprinkle ground chai lightly over cookies.
Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes.
Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately place pumpkin kisses in the center of each cookie. Don’t press too hard or the kisses will melt into pools of orange. Cool completely. Enjoy!

As you can see, they are festive and fun and très delicious. I really like how light they are, almost like a shortbread.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Please share!

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