I'm so sad. This is the last week of us all baking new Christmas Cookies and sharing with one another. I have really been enjoying the excuse to try several new and different varieties that I've had my eye on for a while. For today's cookie I decided to go once again with pumpkin. I have never tried a plain pumpkin cookie, whether it be one I've made myself or otherwise, but the idea sounded so appealing that I wanted to give it a shot. While I was looking for inspiration for a recipe, I flipped through my Baking Illustrated cookbook and came across a recipe for chewy Sugar Cookies. Thinking that this recipe might be a good starting point I decided to whip up a batch as written to see how well it might be converted into a pumpkin cookie. I was a bit disappointed in the results, the cookie wasn't quite what I had hoped for. It tasted good (there are none left) but it wasn't going to fit the bill, not even as a base.
(pumpkin puree before cooking)
Looking for new inspiration I decided to do an online search. It seemed that most of the recipes that were turning up would turn out a soft, pillowy, muffin top of a cookie. This still wasn't what I was looking for. Until I came across a recipe on Erin's site. She describes typical pumpkin cookies as looking "more like an orphaned whoopie pie half" which is very apt. However, she also stated that an error in forgetting to cream the butter and sugar together corrected this problem in her pumpkin cookies. Another source, guilty kitchen, used pumpkin butter instead of plain puree to eliminate the fluffiness of her pumpkin cookies. I decided to combine both of these ideas into a recipe of my own to see how it would turn out.
(pumpkin puree after cooking about 30 minutes)
While I was making the cookies I wondered if they should have an icing or glaze like there was on several of the recipes that my search turned up. One of them made a browned butter icing and another had a cream cheese icing, since both sounded delicious I combined them into a browned butter cream cheese icing. The result fell a bit short of my expectations, next time I am just going with the cream cheese icing (reflected in the recipe below, if you want to try it with the browned butter the only change is to brown the butter before adding the cream cheese). These cookies were not cakey, so I successfully avoided that, but neither were they chewy or crunchy. They tasted like a cinnamon roll mixed with a slice of pumpkin pie and then injected into a cookie. While that isn't at all what I was anticipating, I am not about to complain about the mouthwatering little morsels on my plate. Overall, I am very pleased with how my experimenting turned out.
Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing
15 oz. pumpkin puree (alternately, substitute about 1 cup of good pumpkin butter for this and the 1/4 cup of brown sugar)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamon
1/4 tsp ginger
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine pumpkin puree and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Keep cooking, stirring often to prevent sticking and burning, until the puree becomes quite thick and has reduced in volume by about 1/2, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before proceeding.
Meanwhile, measure into a medium bowl all the dry ingredients (flour through ginger) and stir to mix. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F. When pumpkin puree has cooled, add it to the bowl of your mixer along with the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla, stirring only to combine. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until no visible flour remains.
Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, measure out portions of dough on a cookie sheet. Using your palm which has been moistened with water (or the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup) press down to flatten each mound of dough. These cookies will not spread and flatten much on their own so squish them to your desired thickness.
Bake in the preheated oven for around 12 minutes, being sure to switch the pans halfway through for even cooking. Cool on the pans a few minutes before removing to a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Icing
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoon milk (until desired consistency)
In a small bowl, whip together the softened butter and cream cheese. Stir in the powdered sugar. Add the milk a little at a time until you have reached your desired consistency. Spread or drizzle on each cookie depending on thickness of icing.
Please be sure to check out everyone's entry for the final week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies!