Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin Heaven

I love to bake. More precisely, I love to bake cookies. Along that vein, I have been collecting the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine annually since 1996. I first flip through and look at all the gorgeous and delectable photos of the cookies, then I spend a little more time
perusing the pages and making mental notes on my favorites. Lastly, I read through the recipes and decide on a few must-makes for the holiday season. The cookies that caught my interest almost immediately in this year's edition were the Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies, whose recipe was submitted by reader, Emily Orton, of Bonner Springs, KS. According to Emily, "they have the consistency of cake and should be sold in bakeries".

On the first day that was cool enough for baking, I fired up the oven (an arduous task as my oven will now only turn on if I first light the right back burner on the stove-top. Note to self: call repair-man before Thanksgiving.), whipped up some dough and proceeded to bake some super-yummy little cakes. While they cooled, I mixed up the caramely goodness that was to frost the tops of these pumpkin gems. Lastly, the taste test. These were as good as I had imagined: Soft and cakey, with a mild pumpkin-pie flavor that is nicely enhanced by the brown-butter, caramel flavors in the icing. They have been added to my "make again soon" list.

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

Preheat your oven to 350-degrees. In a large bowl, beat 2 cups softened, unsalted butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Add 2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg to the butter and beat until combined, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract; beat until combined. Beat in 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree. Lastly, beat in 4 cups (20 ounces) all-purpose flour.

Drop the dough by heaping teaspoons (the flatware kind) 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Remove from the cookie sheet and cool on a wire rack.

For the frosting, heat 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 cup packed brown sugar in a saucepan until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup whole milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat in 2 + 3/4 cups powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cooled cookies and sprinkle with additional cinnamon. Makes 60-ish cookies.

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