Monday, October 28, 2019

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

I love pumpkin baked goods.  My files include loads of tried and true recipes for cakes, bars, breads, pancakes and muffins…even cheesecake and brownies….  But for some reason, when I found myself in possession of some extra pumpkin purée a couple of weeks ago, what I really wanted to do was make something new. 

Actually, I really wanted cake.  I just didn’t want a big cake.  One would have thought I would have made cupcakes…or muffins…   But no, what I found myself thinking about was a soft cookie…with frosting.  Something in the same family as the Italian Ricotta Cookies I posted a couple of years ago.

So I took a look at that recipe…thinking maybe I could tweak the recipe a bit and swap out the ricotta for pumpkin.  And that’s pretty much what I did.  Because pumpkin is essentially fat free (and whole milk ricotta is not) I increased the butter.  I also decided to use brown sugar instead of white, which I thought would give a slightly denser texture and richer flavor. And of course, I added pumpkin spice.  The resulting cookies were just what I had been imagining:  a soft, spicy, pumpkin cookie (a mini-cake!). 

For the frosting I could have just used the same one I used on the ricotta cookies.  But I thought browned butter would be more interesting than plain melted butter...and would pair better with the stronger flavors of the pumpkin and pumpkin spice.  It turned out to be a very nice touch.

I think it is worth noting that this recipe uses 3/4 cup of pumpkin purée.  This might not seem significant. But the fact is I find myself with 3/4 cup of pumpkin on my hands almost every time I open a can of pumpkin.  If a recipe doesn’t call for the entire can, more often than not, it calls for a cup.  Since someone somewhere, inexplicably decided that a can of pumpkin should be 15 ounces…which is 1 3/4 cups….there is often 3/4 cup left.  Since canned pumpkin doesn’t freeze well, you have to use it within a week…or lose it.  Recipes that use 3/4 of a cup are quite handy.

But even if it didn’t use such a convenient amount of pumpkin, this recipe would still make a great addition to your files.  It’s perfect for those times when you want a soft, spicy, cake-y pumpkin treat...but don't want to commit to a big cake.  

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

250 g./a scant 2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
5 oz./143g./10 T. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
200 g./1 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
185 g./3/4 c. solid pack pumpkin or fresh pumpkin purée

4 T. (56 g.) unsalted butter
1 1/2 plus 2 T. (185 g.) powdered sugar
2 T. (30 g.) whole milk
1 t. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, briefly cream together butter and sugar until smooth and lightened in color.  Add the egg and vanilla; beat until fully incorporated.  Scrape down the sides.  

Add the pumpkin and mix until fully incorporated (the mixture will look curdled…this is ok).

Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the ingredients come together to make a soft dough.  Using a 1 1/2 T. cookie scoop, drop level scoops of the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet leaving 1 1/2 to  2 inches between the mounds of dough.  

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 10 to 13 minutes—or until the cookies have lost their wet sheen and are puffed (they will begin to crack).  If you press them lightly they will feel tender, but they will spring back.  Be careful not to over bake—you want them to remain soft and cake-y.

Slide the parchment off the baking sheet and onto a rack. Repeat with the remaining dough. 

While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting.  Brown the butter:  Place the butter in a small sauté pan set over medium heat. As the butter begins to sputter and pop, whisk occasionally. The butter solids will begin to turn brown. When the solids are a deep golden brown and the butter has a pleasantly nutty aroma, immediately transfer to a heat-proof container (making sure to get all the brown bits) to stop the cooking.  Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl.  Add the milk, vanilla and browned butter. Mix until smooth and no lumps remain. The frosting should be fluid enough to spread and drip a bit.  Let cool briefly before using.  The frosting will firm up as it cools.  If it becomes too firm to spread smoothly, simply warm it over a hot water bath or in the microwave. 

When the cookies are completely cool, frost them by dropping a blob of frosting on the center of each cookie and then swirling the frosting with a small palette knife.  When all the cookies have been frosted, sprinkle sparingly with cinnamon.   

Allow the glaze to set before storing air tight (separate the layers of cookies with parchment or waxed paper). 

Makes 40 cookies
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