Ellen Clifford
October 11, 2014 9:30 am

A couple of weeks ago I covered my desert island cookbook, the Joy of Cooking. Like a good pair of thigh high boots, it is the cookbook that would see me through hell and high-water, plus a dinner party or two. And it’s definitely the cookbook I’d choose to take on a desert island with me. Along with my waffle maker and some SPF 100, of course.

But what if I wished to escape to a dessert island? What would that be like? Would strains of Big Rock Candy Mountain waft through the air like the scent of chocolate in Willy Wonka’s digs? Would the streets be spun from sugar and the couches made from pillow-y angel food cake? Or what if I were to craft an entire island of cupcake hills, surrounded by vanilla bean milkshake oceans? Would said oceans be swimming with gingerbread dolphins? Would I still be a vegetarian if I ate them? These are very important things to ponder.

It’s fitting that the book I’d use to create a dessert island also has something to do with Joy. It only makes sense, right? But this time, I’m talking about Joy the Baker. I received Joy Wilson’s dreamboat of a book, Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats and swooned. It is just so beautiful. I straight up HUGGED this book, y’all. I decided right then and there, that Homemade Decadence would be my dessert island book.

Joy the Baker was one of my gateway cooks to the addictive world of food blogs. It is not just the dependably delectable treats she comes up with that make her so amazing. It’s not just the impeccable pictures of her baked goods. It is Joy herself. Her voice is friendly. She is open. She is real. Which is sort of what the book is about. It is real decadence you can make by yourself on any given day. While the treats are special, they should not be saved solely for special occasions.

These are real-life treats. They range in difficulty from 3-layer Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pretzel Layer Cake, to easy-to-assemble Peach, Brie and Dark Chocolate S’mores. However, being as it is autumn, and pumpkin time has arrived, I opted for the intermediate level recipe: Pumpkin, Cranberry and White Chocolate Cake Cookies. So tasty they nearly blew me right off the dessert island. But then everyone else who ate them were so grateful for my cookies, that they voted me back on. Phew. A dessert island with Joy the Baker is one I’d be cool with being stuck on.

Pumpkin, Cranberry and White Chocolate Cake Cookies adapted from Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg (Joy specifies freshly grated but I only had jarred)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped (I used the chopper jar attachment to my hand blender)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (I chopped up a 4 oz. bar of Ghiradelli white chocolate)
  • confectioner’s sugar for sprinkling on after baking

Put oven racks in the upper third and middle of the oven. Preheat it to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix the pumpkin, butter, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, and orange zest and heat until the butter is melted and you start smelling the aroma of spices. I accidentally added the brown sugar in this step which melted too, and it worked out okay. Take off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Mine was sort of lukewarm when I moved on but again, things turned out fine.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Once the pumpkin mixture is cool, whisk in the eggs, brown sugar (if you didn’t mess up and already add it like me) and vanilla. Stir that mess thoroughly into the flour mixture then stir in the cranberries and white chocolate.

Spoon glops of this gloriously gooey dough-batter onto the baking sheet about two heaping tablespoons at a time, leaving a couple of inches between each. Bake until the tops are firm and the cookies are cooked through. My batches took around 15 minutes, give or take. Keep an eye on them. As always, I advise you to keep in mind that every oven is different. I accidentally took my first batch out early and they were still gooey inside, but once again, this still was okay if not preferable for a raw dough lover.

Let them cool on the sheet for five minutes, then transfer the cookies to a rack to keep cooling. Sprinkle on some confectioners sugar. Gobble. Hug a book. Gobble some more.

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