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I never should have messed with it. The cookie recipe that my family will probably publish in my obituary, already tasted like pumpkin spice and everything nice. So I’m not sure why I thought our beloved pumpkin chocolate chip cookies would be even more cherished by turning them into sandwiches with marshmallow maple cream and chocolate drizzle.

pumpkin chocolate chip sandwich cookies with maple cream

Don’t get me wrong, these palm-size sandwiches taste like everything that’s charming about fall. They are soft, with bites of chocolate and warm spices, stuffed with creamy maple filling and a drizzle of glossy honey chocolate sauce.

But my family has more than 10 years under its soft pants belt with this cookie and they just weren’t interested in a change. I came home with a full container, vowing only to make them again for strangers.

Marshmallow Maple Creme

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted sweet butter, softened

1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme

2 teaspoons maple extract

Beat together sugar and butter with an electric mixer on high for 2 minutes. Whip in the marshmallow creme and maple extract on medium speed until smooth. Set aside at room temperature for up to two hours.

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

1- 1/2 cups butter, softened (3 sticks)

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup sugar

1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups quick-cooking oats

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (this is my own addition)

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups (12 oz) chocolate chips

Bake the cookies:

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in the egg, pumpkin and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Makes 10 dozen cookies.

Assemble the cookie sandwiches:

Turn half of the cookies upside down and spread a thick layer of marshmallow maple creme on the bottom of each cookie. Top each cream layer with another cookie, top side up. Drizzle each sandwich with honey chocolate drizzle (recipe below). Store in an airtight container at room temperature for two days.

Honey chocolate drizzle

1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup heavy cream

Pour honey and chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, slowly bring cream just to a boil. Tip hot cream into chocolate and honey; let stand for 1 minute. Stir until melted and smooth. Drizzle onto cookie sandwiches.

 
Have you ever messed with a beloved family recipe with not so raving results?
Sweet wishes,
Staci

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If you grew up near Brookings, S.D., you most likely visited McCrory Gardens for an elementary school field trip. Chances are, your brown-bag sack lunch contained a soggy, white-bread bologna sandwich and a plastic baggie filled with Dakota Style chips. Fast forward twenty-five years and you can bake cookies with maple syrup straight from McCrory’s trees and sunflower seed kernels from the potato grower in Clark, just 80 miles up the road.

maple sunflower seed butter cookies

The inspiration for these cookies came from three things:

  1. I bought a jar of sunflower seed butter from Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.
  2. I purchased a little jug of maple syrup from the McCrory Gardens gift shop.
  3. I love peanut butter and maple syrup on my waffles.

So, I bought a bag of Dakota Style sunflower kernels and whipped up a batch of cookies quite different from my normal baking — there’s no chocolate!

Maple Sunflower Seed Butter Cookies

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sunflower seed butter (of course you could use peanut butter if you prefer)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1-1/2 cups crispy rice cereal

1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels

Make the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, sunflower seed butter, maple syrup, vanilla, and softened butter. Briskly stir in egg until the mixture is well combined and creamy.

Add the sunflower seed butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir. A wooden spoon works best. Stir in the crispy rice cereal and sunflower seed kernels.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop the cookie dough by the teaspoonful onto the pan, leaving an inch between cookies. Gently push the cookies down slightly to make circles. Bake 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Let cool on the cookie sheet for at least 20 minutes. These cookies are really soft so they are hard to move onto a cooling rack when they are hot. Once the cookies have cooled enough to move them without falling apart, transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Store cooled cookies in an airtight container. Makes approximately 32 soft cookies.

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Have you been to McCrory Gardens recently? They have developed the botanical gardens nicely the last few years and they recently opened the Education and Visitor Center. Here’s a picture of the cute little cottage in the winter. I have a nostalgic connection to this cottage — if I remember correctly, it used to be a little gas station in Lake Preston. For those of you who remember my best friend and our classmate, Darya, she loved this little station. There was a time after Darya died that her parents and another local family had the opportunity to donate the small building to McCrory gardens in memory of their loved ones. It makes a romantic, dreamy background for photos so bring your camera.

If you’re in the area:

McCrory Gardens
631 22nd Avenue
Brookings, SD 57006
www.mcrorygardens.com

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There’s no reason to get sappy. If you can’t buy the real Pearson’s Maple Bun Bars where you live, make them yourself! Click here for a locator to find where you can purchase the candy bars, because I highly recommend you eat the real Maple Bun Bars when you can, and make this recipe for times when you can’t.

If you aren’t familiar with the Bun Bar, maybe the Salted Nut Roll rings a bell? Or how about those little Mint Patties wrapped in silver and green foil, cleverly placed in a big jar near the cash register at your local café? They are all made at Pearson’s in Minnesota.

I like the story of Pearson’s Candy Company, which three Pearson brothers began in Minneapolis in 1909 as a candy distribution company. They did some candy manufacturing and a few years later two more brothers joined the company. At the end of World War II, they got out of the candy distribution business and focused on candy making.  In 2011, Brynwood Partners VI, L.P. purchased the company. Note to the new owners: you’ve got a good thing going here –  don’t change a thing except for making your candy available in more locations. xoxoxo Staci

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Pearson’s Candy Company in any way. Of course we all know this recipe is not really the Maple Nut Bun Bar recipe – it’s my version of the candy bar, just to get me through times I can’t buy them in my area. Unlike my opinion that my homemade Snickers®are better than the real thing, you just can’t duplicate the distinct maple flavor and the slight snap of the chocolate layer in a real Pearson’s Maple Nut Bun Bar.

Maple Nut Bars

Generously butter a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan.

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt together the chocolate and butterscotch chips.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, mixing well until smooth.

Spread a generous half of the mixture in the buttered pan. (As you can see in my first photo, the bottom chocolate layer is actually too thin – the bars are easier to get out of the pan if the bottom layer is a little thicker.) Chill in the refrigerator.

Stir peanuts into the remaining chocolate mixture. Set aside. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter.

Slowly add the evaporated milk.

Stir in the pudding mix. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Do not boil. Remove from heat.

Stir in powdered sugar and maple extract. (It’s easier to use a wooden spoon at this point.) Cool slightly.

Carefully spread the maple mixture over the chilled chocolate layer in the pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Drop the reserved chocolate and peanut mixture by spoonfuls over the chilled maple layer; spread to cover.

Chill the bars until firm.

Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

{Maple Nut Bars}

12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz. package butterscotch chips (I’m pretty sure real Maple Bun Bars don’t have butterscotch chips in them.)

2 cups creamy peanut butter (And they probably don’t use peanut butter either.)

2 cups dry roasted peanuts

1 cup butter

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 small package cook and serve vanilla pudding mix (not instant)

2 lbs. powdered sugar (approximately 7-1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons maple extract

Generously butter a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt together the chocolate and butterscotch chips. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, mixing well until smooth. Spread a generous half of the mixture in the buttered pan. (As you can see in my first photo, the bottom chocolate layer is actually too thin – the bars are easier to get out of the pan if the bottom layer is a little thicker.) Chill in the refrigerator.

Stir peanuts into the remaining chocolate mixture. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Slowly add the evaporated milk. Stir in the pudding mix. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture is slightly thickened. Do not boil. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and maple extract. (It’s easier to use a wooden spoon at this point.) Cool slightly. Carefully spread the maple mixture over the chilled chocolate layer in the pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Drop the reserved chocolate and peanut mixture by spoonfuls over the chilled maple layer; spread to cover. Chill the bars until firm. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. Makes approximately 48 bars.

What store-bought candy do you make in your kitchen?

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Okay, so it might be the longest name for a cupcake but they deserve it. Most of these went directly to a Habitat for Humanity party, right along with their BFFs, Heavenly Chocolate Cupcakes with Snow Frosting. I didn’t attend the party so I don’t know which flavor was the biggest hit of the party. The two were so good that I wanted to cut them each in half and put them side by side to make one cupcake. Who am I kidding? I would just eat two. Enjoy all you butterscotch lovers out there! 

{Triple Butterscotch Cupcakes with Butterscotch Maple Frosting}

Cupcakes:

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain butterscotch cake mix (I can’t find butterscotch cake mix in my grocery store so I use a box of yellow cake mix and add one 3.4 oz. package of butterscotch instant pudding mix) 

1 package (3.4 ounces) butterscotch instant pudding mix

1 cup water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the butterscotch maple frosting:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

4 Tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, softened

2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

1/2 cup melted butterscotch chips, slightly cooled

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners or grease 24 cupcake cups. Blend on medium speed the cake mix, pudding mixes, water, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Spoon batter into cupcake cups, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean or until cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

Prepare frosting: Blend the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer. Add two cups of the powdered sugar, a little at a time, blending with mixer until all the sugar is well incorporated.  Add the maple flavoring and the melted butterscotch chips and mix on medium speed until the frosting is fluffy. Add the additional 1/2 cup as desired for spreading consistency. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

This recipe is from Anne Byrn’s Cupcakes! From the Cake Mix Doctor.

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If you haven’t heard, the 2009-2010 canned pumpkin shortage is history! So get that can opener cranked up because if you don’t bake a pan of these crazy-good Maple Iced Pumpkin Blondies for Thanksgiving, you might as well skip the holiday all together. And you wouldn’t want to disappoint the pilgrims.

{Maple Iced Pumpkin Blondies}

Bars:

2  1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2  1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp salt

1  1/2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup butter softened (1  1/2 sticks)

1  1/2 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin

Maple Cream Cheese Icing:

 6 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1-2 tsp maple flavoring

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 15×10-inch jelly roll/bar pan. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon pumpkin pie spice and salt. In large bowl beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in pumpkin. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes of until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan. For Maple Cream Cheese Icing: Beat cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar in a small mixer until smooth. Add flavoring. Spread on completely cooled bars. Lightly sprinkle with cinnamon.

 This recipe is adapted from C&H Sugar.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving sweets?

 

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