"Reclaiming Homemade in a Small Space"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Cookies Take Two: Pumpkin Cookies

Mmmmm....just look at those cookies.  Maybe you can tell by the photo that they are moist with a cake-like texture and that the buttercream icing has a hint of orange.  You might also deduce that they are soft and have just the right amount of Christmas spice.  Well, if you can, then maybe you don't need me to tell you how delicious they are or how you really need to make a batch of these. I make them a LEAST twice if not more during December.   You definitely don't need to scarf these down, savor each bite and I dare you just to eat one!  I haven't been able to do it yet.

Pumpkin Cookies:
Printable Version
1 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 t. vanilla
1 c. pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg (freshly ground)

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.

Add the lightly beaten egg and vanilla and beat well.  Add the pumpkin puree.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and fresh nutmeg.

A word on fresh nutmeg....it is a beautiful thing.  The aroma from a whole nutmeg trumps ANY ground nutmeg you are going to buy at the store.  You might say, "But I don't use nutmeg enough to justify buying a whole one."  That is precisely why you need a whole nutmeg!  They do not spoil.  They do not go bad and they do not lose their flavor/aroma over time like ground spices do.  Over time, ground nutmeg loses its essential oils (translation- flavor!) and won't taste as nutmeg-y.  Do yourself a favor and buy one of these: a microplane grater and a whole nutmeg.
They are sold in most stores but I like to find places that sell spices in bulk, it tends to be cheaper.  (Isn't it kinda pretty, too???)
Okay, back to our cookie dough.  Add dry ingredients 1/2 c. at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  Using your trusty #40 scoop (or a teaspoon) drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  The scoop helps each cookie to be the same size so they bake evenly.  I like to line my cookie sheets with a Silpat, simply because I think the cookies brown nicely on the bottom and they never stick.
 Bake until ever so lightly brown on the tops about 12 to 15 minutes.  I find that I need to keep them in just a wee bit longer from time to time.  But take great care not to over bake these.

Transfer carefully to a wire rack and cool completely.  If you put the icing on now, it will just slide right off.   Now, if you have followed my instructions, you kitchen will smell insanely good and you will want to eat them now.  You can (and I have!), but you patience will be rewarded if you wait just a few more minutes while you mix up the icing.

Orange Icing:
1/3 c. butter, softened
2 c. sifted confectioner sugar 
2 to 3 T. orange juice
1 1/2 t. orange zest (opt.)

First, ordinarily, I would skip the sifting, but since you don't want lumps in your icing, I highly suggest sifting. In a large bowl, cream butter and (sifted!) sugar.
 It will look dry but that is what it is supposed to look like.  Add the zest now if you like.
Add 2 T. of orange juice and mix well.  You may need to add a little more o.j. until it reaches a nice spreading consistency.  I usually have to add a little more but rarely do I use the full 3 T.  It comes out looking like this.

 After the cookies have completely cooled, you are free to frost them with a spatula or knife.  You'll get these tasty Christmas traditions!

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