My second Sunday into the ‘Cookbook Sunday dinner’ and I’m not blogging about a recipe from Heritage or any cookbook. Tonight was an evening out because Skip was a judge at a gin and tonic competition, so, you get a baking post for Sunday night! Next Sunday, I’ll resume the cookbook dinner but, today, you get the deliciousness that is a pumpkin cookie. Fall seemed to arrive in full force over the last couple of days. The leaves are now in full color, a nice contrast to the lovely evergreens. We’ve started to have more frequent days with the autumn gray skies that transition through the day to vibrant blue with light rain and sometimes not-so-light wind with that little chilly edge that tells you winter isn’t far behind.
All the squirrels are gathering food and fattening up in preparation for the next season–and totally driving our dog nuts because they’re ‘invading’ our yard and brazenly scouring our deck for bits of bird seed and suet. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. This time of year my cravings and my cooking turn more toward hearty, comforting dishes and baking begins to involve much more spice, apples, maple, and pumpkin.
Last weekend, I made the first batch of pumpkin cookies of the season–they’re always a big hit with just about everyone and they’re one of Skip’s favorites. These cookies are cakey pillows coated in a candy-like icing, they’re not too pretty but they are delicious. They’re wonderful with a cup of tea or coffee…or bourbon. When you coat them with icing, do so on a wire rack sitting over a bit of parchment or, even better, a silicone mat. When the little bits of icing that drip off the cookies cool, they’re addictive little crunchy candy bits and oh-so-good.
2 C (372 g) Vegetable shortening
2 C (436 g) Granulated sugar
2 Large Eggs, room temperature (133 g total, in shell)
4 C (533 g) All-purpose flour
2 tsp (11 g) Baking soda
2 tsp (8 g) Baking powder
2 tsp (3 g) Cinnamon
1 tsp (3 g) Salt
2 C (562 g) Canned pumpkin
1 Large Vanilla bean*
6 Tbsp (85.2 g) Unsalted butter
0.5 C milk
1 C (145 g) Brown sugar
2 C (264 g) Powdered sugar
1.5 tsp Bourbon (or vanilla extract)
For the Cookies
- Pre-heat oven to 350 °F.
- Stir together flour baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
- Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and add to the granulated sugar; mix in with the sugar.
- Using an electric mixer, cream shortening and sugar in a bowl for 5 minutes.
- Add pumpkin and mix on low to combine.
- Add eggs, one at a time, blending well between each egg.
- Add to dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix until blended. The dough will be smooth and scoopable.
- Put ice cream scoopfuls (a heaping 1/4 cup) onto greased cookie sheet, or one lined with a silicone mat, and bake for 15-18 minutes or until light brown on the edges and firm on top.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes.
For the icing
- Combine the butter, milk, and brown sugar and bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
- Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar and bourbon (or vanilla).
- If the icing hardens, reheat on low and add a tablespoon or two of milk and whisk until smooth and spreadable.
To finish the cookies
- Place parchment paper or a silicone mat under a cooling rack.
- To icing the cookies, either spoon the icing on each cookie or carefully invert each cookie (topside down) into the icing, twist a little to coat, flip up, and place on the cooling rack.
- The icing should harden fairly quickly, especially if cookies are cooled completely.
*I know I’ve mentioned this before but don’t toss the vanilla pod in the compost or trash once you’ve scraped out the beans! Toss it with a cup or two of granulated sugar, leave in the sugar–you’ll then have a ready-to-use vanilla sugar. You can also use the pod to flavor milk or cream; steep the milk/cream with the pod for 10-15 minutes, then discard the pod & use the milk/cream within a week.