warm but sophisticated {pumpkin chai chocolate chip cookies}

On Sunday I took William to meet up with my parents at a local Indian restaurant. (Which also happened to be the first Indian restaurant I ever tried as an oh-so-adventurous 17 year old!)  I ordered a cup of the house chai to sip with my dessert.  Sitting in a restaurant with a cup of hot tea gave me a serious case of nostalgia, looking back to my adventures with my Grammy.

Grammy (Virginia) always ordered hot tea at the Nam King Buffet on Summer Avenue when I’d visit her in Memphis as a child. The tea came in handle-less china cups and sat on a little saucer.  She’d be given her own little tea kettle for refills.  As a kid from a small town, the Asian buffet the HEIGHT of worldly glamour.  On top of that, my Grammy’s drink of choice proved that she was a lady who knew the proper way to do things.  She was sophisticated and elegant.  I tried to forge sophistication and order the tea a few times myself as a kid, but I was more accustomed to Mudder (Geraldine’s) iced sweet tea in my day-to-day.  I wasn’t ready for fancy lady hot tea quite yet.

My chai on Sunday gave me a serious sense of deja vu.  Although I’m not nearly as sophisticated or elegant as my dear Grammy, I can pretend when I venture into the (not very) elegant world of the strip mall food buffet. The warm and faintly spiced tea was a nice reminder that it IS, in fact, fall. (Even if the day averaged 80 degrees on Sunday.) Chai is a great option when you’ve almost been pumpkin spiced out but still have that hankering to bake something amazing to remind yourself that it’s finally October!


These cookies were the result of some kitchen experimentation.  I bought a can of pumpkin at the grocery store hoping to satisfy the urge for something baked with the stuff.  (But I still managed to leave without buying eggs. Good one, Maas.)  I started searching for a vegan recipe online but then decided that I’d rather just use the old faithful vegan cookie recipe I always use and make it work as a cookie with the unexpected yet perfectly fall flavors of cardamom and chai.

After some tweaking, here’s the finished product! A soft and cakey cookie with a texture courtesy of pumpkin puree.  The pumpkin is complemented with hints of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and ginger,  and baked with the tiniest pinch of black pepper.  (It is a chai cookie after all- pepper had to make an appearance.) I gilded the lily by adding in some semisweet chocolate chips.  These are a perfectly warm update to the ubiquitous pumpkin chocolate cookies, sans the usual overly sweet pie spice, and with a hint of elevation and a nod to a woman who embodied warmth and sophistication.

(Recipe after photo)


Vegan Pumpkin Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies: 


  • 1/2 cup margarine at room temperature (room temperature butter can be used if you don’t want to make dairy free cookies)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together pumpkin, margarine, and sugar together in a mixer or by hand.  Add in vanilla extract and mix together.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and the dry spices.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix to combine.  Add the chocolate chips and mix to incorporate.

Drop by heaping tablespoon sized balls onto greased baking sheets. Flatten slightly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes on trays before removing to finish cooling on baking racks.


Biggest husband high fives to brandon who sought out a Luke’s (for Gilmore Girls day) and brought me a cup of Luke’s on his lunch break. What a dreamboat!

2 thoughts on “warm but sophisticated {pumpkin chai chocolate chip cookies}

  1. These sound incredible!!! I’m all about some chai in bake goods. Have you had Muddy’s Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies? They are sooooo good and topped with a brown butter glaze that you could eat by itself. I love chocolate with pumpkin though, so we have got to try this in the Smith household!

    1. I’ll take a gallon of the glaze. OK? Thanks! I’ve decided that this fall is the fall of brown sugar deliciousness. I’ll have to make a stop in this weekend to try these cookies!

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