Apparently, as the bandwagon was driving by, I jumped right onto it. It’s a pumpkin spice world. There’s probably even a pumpkin spice shampoo at this point. Pumpkin spice toothpaste? But, who can resist those flavors? In full disclosure: there is actually no pumpkin in these cookies, but they are shaped like pumpkins so I think the name is valid. I baked them to send as long-distance trick-or-treats for my nieces and took a few to a party as well. I heard lots of good things from the party guests about them which tells me the recipe is a definite keeper. It’s from the October 2000 issue of Living magazine, and it’s available online. I made a few changes from the original. They’re intended to be circular cookies cut from logs of chilled dough. I added a step by rolling out the dough and cutting pumpkin shapes. It’s a somewhat soft dough, and it does spread a bit in the oven. After the first sheet of spread-out, blobby-looking, baked pumpkin cookies, I decided to chill the cut cookies on baking sheets before putting them in the oven. That helped some. But, any shape more intricate than a pumpkin might not work well. You’ll also see in the photo with the original recipe that they’re decorated like jack-o-lanterns in various colors. Piping bags and I don’t always get along so well which is why I took a different direction with the decorating.
The dry ingredients including flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger were sifted together and set aside. Butter and sugar were creamed together, and then eggs were added followed by vanilla. Next came the molasses, and every year at this time, I’m reminded of how much I really like the flavor of molasses. After incorporating the lovely molasses, the dry ingredients were added and mixed into the dough. Rather than dividing the dough into two pieces and rolling each into a log to be chilled, I just chilled the dough in one big disc. The next day, I worked with a quarter of the dough at a time and rolled it out with a rolling pin to about a one-quarter inch thickness. I cut pumpkin shapes, placed them on baking sheets and popped the baking sheets into the refrigerator for a few minutes before baking. After the cookies were baked and cooled, I used Royal Icing to outline each cookie and then filled that outline with more icing which was topped with orange sugar. This was far easier for me than attempting to draw jack-o-lantern faces with a piping bag.
Fragrant cinnamon and ginger draw you in, but I think it’s the molasses that seals the deal. I liked these cookies just as well with no icing or decoration at all. But, for Halloween, they do demand some dressing up, some color, and more pumpkin-ness.