For many of us, fall represents new challenges, new beginnings, new schedules - and way too much to do. Even as deadlines, homework, and obligations loom, sometimes the best way to build family togetherness into our lives is with a simple project in which everyone can participate. Baking our Pumpkin Cookies recipe is a great place to start.
These cookies are low-stress, requiring ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, and they take under an hour to bake. They can provide a canvas for endless decorating creativity (see our ideas below), but they also taste delicious plain. Best of all, they fill the air with the scent of warm spices and pumpkin. Why not rake the leaves together, put these cookies in the oven and set up a board game on a Sunday afternoon? That’s a recipe for memories that last a lifetime.
Tips for perfecting your cookie:
Get toasty. Get toasty. Toasting nuts for a cookie recipe might feel like an unnecessary extra step, but if you have time, the results are well worth the effort. Toasting brings out a richer, nuttier flavor. For the pumpkin cookies, try toasting the pecans in a medium skillet or sauté pan over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently until the nuts become fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool before stirring into the cookie dough.
Make ahead. Most drop cookie doughs (e.g. cookies made from dough that is dropped by the spoonful onto a baking sheet) can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. In fact, chilled dough often yields loftier cookies with less spread. To chill your dough for up to a week: transfer it to an airtight container let rest in the refrigerator before scooping and baking. To freeze your dough for up to three months: scoop dough balls onto a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet, placing them close together but not touching. Place the sheet in the freezer until balls are hard to the touch, then transfer to a plastic freezer bag and return to the freezer. When baking frozen dough, add an extra minute or so to the baking time.
Be consistent. Equal-sized scoops of dough will cook more evenly and result in more attractive cookies. Using a cookie scoop is a good way assure consistency. Scoops come in a variety of sizes but a 2-teaspoon, medium-sized scoop corresponds to the common cookie recipe direction to “drop by the rounded teaspoonful.” They can also be fun and easy for kids to use. Just be sure to choose the right size or alter the cooking time of the recipe.
Have fun! Decorating simple drop cookies like our Pumpkin Cookies is a snap with a few creative ideas. Place wax or parchment paper beneath baked and cooled cookies, then, with a spoon, pool or zig-zag sweet maple-butter glaze (recipe below) or melted semi-sweet chocolate chips over each cookie - or try your hand at drawing a spider web on top for Halloween! For a pillowy frosted look, spread cream cheese frosting (recipe below) on top, and dust with holiday-themed sprinkles. But no matter how you choose to decorate your cookies, remember that the “perfect” cookies are the ones you bake with or for the people you love.
Maple-Butter Drop Cookie Glaze
- 2 Tablespoons melted Challenge Butter
- 1 ⅓ cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons milk
Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl until very smooth, adjusting the thickness of the glaze by adding a little more milk, if desired.
Drizzle over cooled cookies and allow to firm up before serving.
Cream Cheese Drop Cookie Frosting
- 1 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar
- 8 ounces Challenge Cream Cheese at room temperature
- ½ cup heavy cream
Pulse sugar in a food processor or whisk by hand in a medium bowl to break up lumps.
Add cream cheese and blend until smooth, then add heavy cream and, again, blend until smooth.
Spread on cooled drop cookies. Serve.