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Trick or Treat? (Part 1)

by Crystal
Food & Drink / October 26, 2009

Cookie swaps have become all the rage. Whether your hosting a playdate, birthday party, girls night in or even a family reunion cookie swap parties are a fun, yummy party idea for every season. Since all good things come back around and we’re hoping to get lots of yummy treats this Halloween we decided to share this delicious recipe with you for Great Pumpkin Cookies from the book COOKIE SWAP.

Great Pumpkin Cookies
Makes 2½ to 3 dozen (2-inch) “pumpkins”
Embellished with orange glaze, cinnamon stick “stems,” and green sugar “vines,” these pumpkins appear to be freshly plucked from the patch. Note: For smoother pumpkins for decorating, you may decrease or omit the raisins and walnuts. Without these add-ins, the recipe yields closer to 2½ dozen cookies.

Prep Talk:
Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 5 days. Because of their high pumpkin content, these soft cookies will get even softer within a few days, especially under humid conditions. Eat freshly baked if you want to enjoy a crunchy exterior.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1¼ cups canned pure pumpkin purée (with no added sugar or spices)
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1½ cups walnut halves, lightly toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped (optional)
11⁄3 cups raisins (optional)

Orange Icing and Glaze (optional)

1 recipe Royal Icing (p. 151)
½ to 1 teaspoon water (to thin the icing)
About 60 drops orange soft gel food coloring
½ teaspoon pure orange extract
About 3 drops red soft gel food coloring
About 3 drops brown soft gel food coloring
About 4 tablespoons strained freshly squeezed orange juice
Powdered sugar (as needed to thicken glaze)

Decoration (optional)

About 12 cinnamon sticks, cut into 2½ to 3 dozen small (¾- to 1-inch) pieces (1 per cookie)
2½ to 3 dozen (¾- to 1-inch) fondant leaves
2½ to 3 dozen (1½- to 2-inch) fondant vines


1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mix the Pumpkin Spice Cookies. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Place the sugars and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium-low speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed and beat in the pumpkin purée and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure even mixing. Note: The batter will separate slightly after the addition of the pumpkin, but this is completely expected.
Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the walnuts and raisins, if desired.

3. Portion the dough into mounds using a level 15⁄8-inch (#40) scoop or 1 heaping tablespoon per mound. Place the mounds about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. (A scoop will make rounder pumpkins than a tablespoon.)

4. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until dry and firm on the outside and lightly browned on the bottom. Immediately transfer to wire racks and cool completely before storing or glazing.

5. Mix the Orange Icing and Glaze (optional). Prepare 1 recipe Royal Icing. Portion out ½ cup. Add enough water (½ to 1 teaspoon) to bring this portion to outlining consistency (p. 152). Stir in a drop of orange food coloring to make a pale shade. Cover the surface of the icing flush with plastic wrap and set aside for use in Step 7.

To the remaining icing, add the orange extract and the rest of the orange food coloring, and mix until well combined. To enrich the bright orange to a burnished shade, add the red and brown food coloring, if desired. Gradually add enough orange juice to make a thick glaze. (The glaze should thinly coat a “test” cookie, but you should not be able to see through it. Adjust the glaze consistency as needed by adding more juice to thin it or powdered sugar to thicken it.)

6. Apply the glaze and cinnamon sticks (optional). Set a wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper. (The paper will catch the glaze drippings and make for easier cleanup later.) Work with one cookie at a time. Hold the cookie by the bottom and completely immerse its top in the dark orange glaze. Turn the cookie right side up and gently shake it to remove excess glaze and to smooth the top. Place on the rack and insert a small piece of cinnamon stick into the top center of the cookie to make the pumpkin stem. Repeat with the remaining cookies. (Remember: Tell guests to remove the cinnamon sticks before eating.)

Before the glaze dries, slide a paring knife under each cookie to sever any drippings that may be clinging to the rack. (The glaze will otherwise dry onto the rack, making it more difficult to remove the cookies later.) Let the cookies dry until the glaze loses its sheen.

7. Add contours; decorate with fondant leaves and vines (optional). Fill a parchment paper cone with the reserved pale orange icing and cut a small (1⁄8-inch or less) hole in the tip. Add contours to the pumpkins by piping 8 to 9 thin lines radiating out from the cinnamon stick stem on each cookie. For the finishing touch, use the icing to glue a fondant leaf and vine around each stem.

8. Let the glaze (and any pumpkin contours) dry completely before storing. 



Make sure to check back tomorrow when we’ll be telling you how to prepare Friendly Ghost Cookies.

Photo by Steve Adams.

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