Friday, October 28, 2011

Frosted Pumpkin Cookies

Of all the recipes I make with pumpkin and squash in the fall and winter, my favorites are the sweet baked goods. No matter that there’s an overabundance of miniature chocolate bars and other individually wrapped, personal-sized candy treats in the world this time of year, I still gravitate toward the homemade late-fall sweets. Like these frosted pumpkin cookies, for instance.

I bumped up the WFQ* in this recipe from The Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking by swapping out one cup of all-purpose flour with millet flour. As far as I know, millet is gluten-free, so its addition in baked goods will make them a little more soft and/or crumbly than wheat flour does. For this reason, I didn’t go all millet, but left some gluten in the form of all-purpose flour to hold everything together. (If you require a gluten-free flour, there are many of them in the stores and on the internet.)

The millet flour did make these cookies extra-soft, but also extra-flavorful. Millet has a pleasantly nutty, slightly sweet flavor that might just make you forget you’re increasing your diet’s WFQ. I loved it in these cookies, but if you don’t happen to have any on hand, and aren’t looking to expand your whole grain repertoire, you could just use all-purpose flour. (I’m also curious about how whole wheat pastry flour would taste in this recipe.)

I also personalized the flavors of these cookies by creating a Pumpkin Pie Spice blend that I used in place of the plain cinnamon in the original recipe. This blend is a little hoity-toity, I admit, especially since I ground some whole spices just to make it. Yes, I have all this stuff in my spice cupboard on any given day, but if you don’t you could use a commercially-prepared pumpkin pie or apple pie spice blend, use another recipe, make your own, or, heck, just use cinnamon.

As I said, these cookies are very soft, almost cake-like. I think some of that is from the millet flour, but the moist pumpkin contributes to the texture as well, so if you don’t use the millet flour, your cookies will still be quite soft. And then there’s the brown sugar frosting (which I also spiced up just a bit). It’s sweet and just a bit caramel-y and sets up on the cookie nicely without becoming too dry or crusty. It’s like you have your own little frosted cake (or two or three) that you won’t be expected to share.

Perhaps you can let all the costumed kids have their trick-or-treat candy, and keep these cookies to yourself. Nah, I won’t be doing that either…the letting kids eat all the candy part anyway.

*WFQ: Whole Food Quotient

The Messy Apron Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice

1. Combine all the spices and mix well. Keep in an airtight container for a few months.

Makes a scant 3 tablespoons.

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting
Adapted from The Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking

I used walnuts to make these cookies, but I think pecans would be even better.

You could use more all-purpose flour in place of the millet flour.

For the cookies:
1cup all-purpose flour
1 cup millet flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons The Messy Apron Pumpkin Pie Spice (or pumpkin pie spice of your choice)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin or other sweet squash puree (canned is fine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

For the frosting:
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup firmly-packed brown sugar
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon The Messy Apron Pumpkin Pie Spice (or pumpkin pie spice of your choice)
2-2 ½ cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium-size bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, millet flour, baking powder, baking soda, 2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice, and salt. Whisk together until well-blended.

2. In large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, ½ cup brown sugar and 1 cup butter. Beat together with an electric mixer or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until well-creamed and fluffy, at least a minute or two.

3. Beat in the egg until well combined. Beat in the pumpkin and vanilla extract.

4. Slowly mix in the flour mixture a little at a time until just combined. Stir in the walnuts.

5. Lightly grease cookie sheets for baking. Scoop up heaping tablespoons of the cookie batter and place them on the sheets at least 2 inches apart.

6. Bake at 350 F for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are just beginning to brown and the surface appears set and slightly dry. Remove from the pans immediately and cool on wire racks. The cookies will be very soft, so may need a little extra care in removal.

7. To make the frosting, heat the 3 tablespoons butter and ½ cup brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the butter melts. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

8. Remove from the heat and cool 10 minutes.

9. Add the milk. Stir until smooth. The sugar may have crystallized, so keep stirring until it dissolves.

10. Stir in the Pumpkin Pie Spice. Sift in about 2 cups powdered sugar. (Failing to sift the powdered sugar may give you a lumpy frosting. I, unfortunately, do this all to often.) Stir until well-combined and smooth. Sift and stir in more powdered sugar if needed to make the frosting spread easily.

11. Frost the cookies when they have completely cooled. Allow to stand until the frosting is set.

Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on how big you make them). They will keep in an airtight container for a few days.

Other recipes like this one: Pumpkin Oatmeal Quick Bread with Dates and Pecans, Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

One year ago: Caramel Corn

Two years ago: Black Beans with Beets and Oranges

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