With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I decided that my first cooking post should be these Pumpkin Pie Cookies.
These cookies do not have pumpkin in them. I hate pumpkin. They are called Pumpkin Pie cookies because they look like this:
This cookie recipe makes a LOT of cookies, depending on the size of your circle cookie cutter. I feel strongly about that. I mean, if I’m going to pull out all of the stops and decorate cookies, I may as well decorate a lot of them. However, I’m not a maniac. I mean, I work full-time (usually more), and when I get home I’m just as tired as everyone else is (again, usually more). So, generally when I’m about halfway through the dough I stop making the pumpkin pie slices and I start making whole pumpkin pie cookies. Variety is a good option, especially when it comes down to decorating 7 million little triangles. This uses a pretty simple sugar cookie-style base and two (yes, two) types of frosting. Breathe.
Here’s what you need to get started:
Butter, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, confectioner’s sugar, light corn syrup, milk, food coloring, and some solid vegetable shortening. That ingredient list tells you in two words that Sierra will get none of these cookies (food coloring). Don’t worry; I’ll make her some shark teeth out of some of the pie slices. White frosting is better than no cookies to a kid who’s 9.
A note about the butter: you could use margarine, I suppose. Or, you could just go buy some crappy cookies at the grocery store. Do yourself a favor and go with the real deal. I won’t use margarine in any of my recipes, so get used to it. If you’re going to make something from scratch it may as well be legit. Use butter.
And away we go!
Start off by throwing the softened butter, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla in your mixer bowl. I used my sexy KitchenAid stand mixer, but you can use a hand mixer as well. They’re both like kitchen power tools.
Feel the power and beat on low speed until they are happily just blended. You can leave some small, beautiful butter chunks. Believe me, it’s not a problem.
Stir together your flour, baking powder, and salt. Just give it a quick whisk to mix it up a bit.
Add this to your butter mixture gradually. Note the italics on that. If you dump it all in and press “GO!” on whichever kitchen power tool you’re using you’ll make a really nice flour bomb all over everything. As much fun as it is to experience something like that, the cleanup afterwards makes me limit doing it to about once every 3 years…or whenever I forget what gradually means. Eventually, it will all get in there and just mix it up until you get a nice thick dough out of it.
Divide your dough in half and pop a cover of some sort on it and let it chill out in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, or until it’s firm enough to handle without too much sticking. You might as well turn your oven to 400 and get that baby preheated.
Dust your counterspace with flour and grab a big fistful of that dough. You may need to play with it for a bit to soften it up, but when it’s ready roll it out until it’s about 1/4″ thick.
A quick note about rolling out dough. This isn’t the Play-Doh factory of your youth. Ease up on that back and forth ab-workout-with-a-rolling-pin routine. Roll in one direction. The dough likes it better because it’s less prone to tearing, and your thickness is more consistent.
Find a nice, big circle cookie cutter. Mine measures about 4″ across. This makes either little tiny pumpkin pie slices or a nice, over-sized whole pie cookie. I usually make both. Start cutting out your circle shapes in the dough. Pull aside the rest of the dough to work into the following batches and start cutting those circles into mini pie slices. I used my pizza cutter and cut each circle into 8 “equal” slices. After I was halfway through with my dough, I switched to making the whole pies and no longer cut the circles into slices.
Place your cookies onto un-greased baking sheets and pop them in the oven. It’s best to hover a bit because they don’t take long to cook (8-10 minutes), and, thus, they don’t take long to burn either. Remove the cookies from the sheets and onto wire racks to cool.
I love this type of cookie-making. Right now, these cookies have the potential to be so many different things: candy corn, shark or dinosaur teeth, cat ears…I mean, it’s like a blank canvas. Betcha didn’t know I could get so deep about sugar cookies, did you? Eh? Ehhhhhh?
Meanwhile, you can begin to make the glaze icing which will color the cookie and be the base for the next round. First, you need to sift your confectioner’s sugar. I know. Everyone hates sifting, but just do it! For this glaze you need a smooth, non-lumpy icing, and how do you suppose you’re going to get that without sifting? Sift.
There, now see how nice that looks? Go ahead and dump your light corn syrup and some milk onto this fluffy bed of finely sifted sugar and stir it up! It will be super thick at first, so just beat the tar out of it. You can add more milk if you need to, but don’t overdo it; the icing won’t set up properly if it has too much liquid.
Once it is smooth, you need to bust out the food coloring and have some real fun trying to invent pumpkin pie color. Hint, a few drops of red, a few more drops of yellow, and one drop of black got me there without too much stress.
Ooooh, ahhhhhh. Mix it up to ensure you get a full blend with no color streaks.
Notice that some of the cookies are a bit more done than the others. I always bake a full sheet of cookies just short of burning them because one of my friends LOVES burnt cookies. I always make her a pan to have all to herself. In any cookie-baking posts you will always see this, just so you know.
And, thus, begins the first step in decorating…
I nearly always grab an offset spatula for putting a base glaze on cookies or cakes, but that’s because I have control issues. Seriously, you can use a butter knife, a popsicle stick, or even your dirty fingers to spread the icing on these. Just get it on there. Oh, and I suppose if you told everyone you used your dirty fingers you wouldn’t have to share…BONUS!
Look at them! The slice pieces remind me of Doritos. When I was a kid I had an obsession with peanut-butter-Nacho-Cheese-Dorito sandwiches…now you couldn’t pay me money to eat one.
Once all of your cookies are glazed, you can mix up the buttercream icing. By the time you’re ready to use it, the glaze should be set and ready to decorate upon.
So put your butter and shortening in a mixing bowl. I use the Crisco baking sticks because I just don’t love measuring it out, and they come in conveniently sized 1-cup bars.
Cream the butter and shortening until they are well blended. My hand mixer was feeling left out, and when it’s sulky it doesn’t work very well so I decided to bust it out and let it do it’s thing. Once you’ve mixed the butter and shortening, dump in some vanilla extract and mix it up again.
Now, it’s everyone’s favorite part: Sifting! Sift your sugar in a happy, fluffy mountain.
Remember the definition of the word gradually? Well, this time it will apply to the mixing procedure. I generally stir this mixture up together before I turn on my mixer to avoid the cloudburst of sugar that would otherwise inevitably occur. Just stir your mixer around and get some of that butter and shortening distributed into the sugar before you turn it on (low speed!) and you should be good.
The mixture will be very dry and crumbly (still a lot of loose sugar), so go ahead and start adding some milk, with lots of mixing in between. Grab a spatula and scrape the sides down so you get everything mixed in really well. It should be firm, but fluffy, a remarkable state of being if I do say so myself. If it feels too thick, add a bit more milk, but you want this frosting to be able to hold a shape so don’t make it too runny.
Scoop out some of the frosting in a small bowl to reserve for the final step, and color the remaining frosting. You’re going for a golden-brown pie crust look, so don’t be too heavy-handed. You shouldn’t need to do much.
Put the pie crust frosting in your decorating gun or pastry bag and use a petal tip of appropriate size. I used tip number 101, but since your cutter may be different, your cookies may need larger or smaller sizes here.
Go for it! Frost along the “crust” edge of your pie slices, using an up-and-down, M-shaped motion to get a rippled look like crimped pie crust. Do all of your cookies this way before switching over your frosting color and decorating tip.
For the dollop of whipped cream, you need to use your reserved uncolored frosting and a star-shaped tip. I used tip number 74, but again, this is dependent on your cookie size.
Smack a dollop on each slice and you’re golden!
The buttercream frosting takes longer to set up, so don’t go stacking them in your favorite piece of Tupperware just yet, or you’ll end up with a mess in a quick. You could eat some, though. Feel free to do that. Lots of that.
Here’s your printable cheat sheet!