when it gets too dark {and brown butter pumpkin cookies with my favorite frosting ever, and i'm not a frosting person}

John and I have had one hell of a year this year (I know, and it's not even over!! lol!).

It's been packed with various crazy challenges and hiccups, and there were times when I felt so overwhelmed with discouragement that'd I curl up in a ball and cry. Not just little tears but deep "my life is too hard" full-on sobs. 

I am so grateful for those sobs, because they allowed me to laugh harder when we had little things go so right. And gratefully and recently, we've had a few things go so right.  I am so grateful for the bad, because it helped me see so much good. 

Bear with me here. 

You know that moment in the movie Bridesmaids when Megan is on the couch with Annie? Annie has had the WORSE spread of luck and hates her life. So she's just sitting on the couch feeling sorry for herself (I mean she's watching Castaway for pete's sake), when unexpectedly, Megan comes over and plops down unapologetically on her couch.

Megan literally slaps Annie around a little bit telling her how she (Megan) overcame getting bullied in high school  -  ie. kids putting firecrackers in her backpack - and how she now has a crazy high-up-there secret government job. She's using this example of "fire-crackers in my backpack to awesome career", to show Annie that she's been having a pity-party and it's time to snap out of it.

I also take it to mean that we can use our super difficult times as fuel for a happier life. 

We all need a Megan in our life. Or maybe more appropriately said, we all need to be like Megan in our life. 

I know it's a movie. I know it's not real. 

I also know something very real happened to our friends in Oregon recently, and I struggle to find the right words, other than my heart aches and my prayers are with you Oregon. 

While I do not even dare compare or assume what it is like to bear the burden of such a tragedy, I do know what it's like to suffer through sadness and dark discouragement. There have been times where I've "lost sight of my Megan" (and maybe hoped that Megan would plop next to me on my couch? Don't repeat that.)

No matter how much darkness there is in this world or in your life, we must choose to see the light. Please see the good or make good, in everything that you are going through. Hashtag: Find the goodness. 

I don't know what's going on in your life, or what you believe in, but please promise me that you will always remember this:

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
— A.A. Milne, (from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh)

If there is anything this past year has taught me, it's that I am braver than I believe and stronger than I think. I pray you if you don't know this already, you will come to know the same. 

Love to you my friend. xo

brown butter pumpkin cookies with brown butter cream cheese frosting

Disclaimer: there is no such thing as too much brown butter. Brown butter + pumpkin + cream cheese = yes please. Other than that disclaimer, I'm thinking these should maybe come with another one as they are more like fluffy little individual moon cakes than a cookie. Speaking of mooncakes, not only is their texture magical, but you can make this recipe one of two ways:  1.) either gluten free or not or 2.) either with tangy cream cheese brown butter frosting, or deep dark chocolate chips. See? Sometimes there is so much goodness to be found in just one thing. 

note: These are best eaten the day they are made, especially the gluten free version. The dough saves nicely for a few days in the fridge. And please, for the love of all that is good, if you must make the cookies a day ahead of time (but really, you shouldn't make them a day ahead), do not frost them until the day they are eaten. Pinky promise me okay? 

ps. note: The gluten free version makes for a more delicate cookie, referring back to my moon cake comment, I enjoy these most on a plate with a fork. 

1 ½ cup / 163g gluten free flour (I used my favorite huckleberry gluten free flour mix)  +  ½ cup / 47g almond meal

OR if you don't care about a gluten free cookie: 

2 cups / 250g organic, unbleached all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder 

½ teaspoon kosher salt 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup / 200g organic sugar

2 cups / 400g organic pumpkin puree 

2 large eggs 

½ cup (1 stick) / 114g unsalted butter, melted and browned 

1 cup dark chocolate chips, heaping, optional (and only recommended if you're not going to use/make the frosting) 

Preheat oven to 325° F / 170° C  Line baking sheet with parchment paper. You may want to lightly grease the parchment with butter. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don't. Be aware that if you don't they will need to be removed with a thin sturdy spatula. ;) 

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter starts to barely brown and becomes more fragrant, about 3-6 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 

Measure and sift all dry ingredients in a large bowl: flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and sugar. 

Make a little well in the middle of your dry ingredients and slowly add your wet ingredients: eggs, pumpkin puree and melted butter. 

Fold together until combined, taking care not to over mix. If you're making these pumpkin chocolate chip, add the chocolate chips now, gently folding them into the batter.

Spoon batter onto parchment paper leaving at least 2 inches between each cookie as these do spread. I spread that batter out a little bit with my spoon to make them smooth on top. 

Bake for 13-16 minutes. Baking time depends on the size of your cookies. Bigger cookies = more baking time. Watch carefully. Cookies should be fluffy, smell delicious and not appear wet. 

Cool completely before frosting. 


for the brown butter cream cheese frosting: 

yields: 4 ½ cups  adapted from The Dahlia Cookbook, by Tom Douglas  

This makes more than you'll need for one recipe of cookies, so feel free to save the surplus in the freezer for next time. 

1 cup / 227g unsalted butter, melted + browned (2 sticks)

1 lb / 454g organic cream cheese, softened to room temperature 

1 cup / 135g organic powdered sugar 

¼ cup maple syrup 

*¾ teaspoon kosher salt - *this makes for a "salty-ish" frosting, if you don't want it to have that wonderful salty bite, then reduce to less salt based on your preference. Sometimes I adjust this to just a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. 

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter starts to barely brown and becomes more fragrant, about 3-6 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 

Beat softened cream cheese in an electric mixer, slowly adding the powdered sugar, maple syrup and salt. 

On low speed, slowly add the cooled browned butter and beat together for 30 seconds until combined. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and beat one more time to ensure you got all of that goodness mixed together. 

This frosting can be made 1 day ahead of time but must be stored in the fridge until use.