Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yummy Yam Experiment

Hello foodie friends!

As some of you might have already figured out for yourselves, pumpkin, at least in my area of the world, is pretty scarce these days! This is terrible terrible news seeing as October is right around the corner and thus marks the perfect time to bring out all of my favorite pumpkin recipes. The issue of missing pumpkin products was brought to my attention one morning in my Yoga class. Yes that's right! I take a class, for actual credit, where I get to relax with Yoga for a whole hour :) I love Drury! It just so happens that this wonderful class is also taught by a wonderfully sweet woman whom I would love to adopt as a surrogate grandmother and who also loves to bake goodies just about as much as I do. One day, she brought it to our attention, that while shopping for ingredients to make us her infamous pumpkin spice cookies, she was distraught to find that pumpkin was indeed no where to be found. At first, this had me pretty bummed, but then I had one of those lightbulb moments! I decided that I would make it a project to experiment and find something that could be substituted for pumpkin and still taste pretty similar. Then of course blog about my findings for my wonderful followers :)

At first, I thought about butternut squash as being a proper substitute and when walking into the store I had it in my mind that I was going to try that first. However, while perusing the baking isle of my local market, I ran across canned yams. I know I know, CANNED YAMS?? Sounds kind of quirky at first, but when you stop to really examine this ingredient, it kinda makes sense. Yams are much like sweet potatoes, but also provide that earthy vegetable taste you get with pumpkin. Another selling point for the yams was the fact that they were canned, and I wouldn't have to go through the whole cooking down of the squash, then putting it through some kind of food mill or food pro to mash it into a wonderfully silky consistency. So I took the leap and purchased one 15 oz. can of yams. Let the baking begin!

Parked in front of my standing mixer and kitchen gadget love of my life, I first mixed two cups of white sugar with one stick of soft, room temperature butter until it was light and fluffy. You could also use one cup of white sugar and one cup of brown sugar and it would probably make these cookies even better. Into this mixture, I added about 3/4's of the canned yams and mixed until they were broken up and the batter was smooth, about two minutes. Next, I added two eggs and a pretty good splash of vanilla, continuing to mix until creamy. In a smaller bowl on the side, I combine the dry ingredients including:
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

After giving the dry a good mix, it was time to incorporate them into the wet. I always do this on the lowest setting of my mixer and little batches of dry at a time so that it isn't creating huge flour clouds in the kitchen. When all ingredients are mixed and the batter looks good enough to eat right out of the bowl, I mixed in a handful of dried cranberries, and a cup of chocolate chips, giving the batter yet another go around in my mixing bowl. These ingredients are optional but I think they give these cookies just another layer of texture.

Finally, in a 350 degree F oven, I baked my cookies for 18 minutes exactly. The batter was measured out using a Tbps measuring spoon. 18 minutes was perfect for the size, but if you choose to make your cookies smaller, than I would obviously recommend cutting the bake time down a bit.

The very best thing about this experiment is that I took them to school with me the next day for a little field testing. I told a tiny white lie, telling the consumers of my cookies that they were indeed pumpkin cookies and not yam cookies. The cookies were extremely popular and were gone pretty quickly, which of course made me happy. It was when they were already gone that I let my classmates know that they had just eaten yam cookies and not pumpkin cookies. They really had no idea and I am just happy that they were pleasantly surprised instead of the other way around :) I wouldn't recommend this again however, because of how common food allergies are these days, you wouldn't want to send someone to the hospital just for a little baking experiment.

If you are like me and love baking with pumpkin, I would seriously recommend trying this recipe out! It might even turn you into a yam fan if you weren't one before.

Good luck and as always, Happy Baking!!!

1 comment:

  1. I think what you are actually cooking with are sweet potatoes... Not yams... It's a technicality but an interesting one for American foodies. True yams are usually very large and come from Africa primarily. They are mildly toxic if not prepared propperly. Sweet potatoes were called yams regionally for awhile and now we see the name yams attributed almost interchangeably with sweet potatoes... Sometimes side by side in the produce section. Check out wikipedia to learn more ;-)