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Pumpkin Cookies

It doesn’t feel like fall in our house until these perfect little puffs of pumpkin make an appearance.  My mom remembers getting this recipe at a tailgate party when we lived in Fort Worth, and now we’re pretty sure this recipe has been passed around to at least half of San Diego.

If you bake them right, the cookies are soft and pillowy, almost muffin-like.  But it’s the cream cheese frosting that puts them over the top.  Pumpkin and cream cheese…most definitely a match made in heaven.

I like making the frosting first, and then moving on to the cookie batter.  Somehow it makes me feel like I have less mess to clean up at the end.

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Frosting Ingredients:

½ cup salted butter, at room temperature

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 pound confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting Preparation:

Using the paddle attachment of an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together on high until light and fluffy.  Pour in the vanilla extract, then gradually add in the powdered sugar until fully incorporated.  Let it beat around in the bowl for about 30 seconds.  The texture should be creamy and spreadable, but not super runny.  Adjust the quantity of sugar if needed to achieve the right consistency.

Transfer the frosting into a bowl and set it aside until the cookies are cooled and ready.

Cookie Ingredients:

2 cups canned pumpkin

4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 cups all-purpose flour

Cookie Preparation:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Grease baking sheets with butter or olive oil and set aside.

Here’s the secret to all Eastman cookies:  If you cheat on this, your cookies won’t be as wonderful.  Cream your butter (which means beat it on the “high” setting) in an electric stand mixer for 5 minutes with the paddle attachment.  Then add your sugars and cream for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  The mixture should look very light, fluffy, and creamy.

Add pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Then add dry ingredients and mix until completely incorporated, but do not overbeat.  Overbeating your batter at this stage will develop the gluten in the flour, making your cookies tough and dense.  Beat the batter on low just until everything is smooth.

Drop spoonfuls of batter onto cookie sheets and bake for 8 – 10 minutes.

Once the cookies are cooled, neatly spread the frosting in a swirling motion, covering most of the cookie but not going all the way out to the edges.  Arrange them on platters in a single layer (because of the soft frosting, you won’t want to stack these cookies), take them with you to your next party, and you’ll be making friends all night long.

Yield: About 60 cookies

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