Monday, October 15, 2012

Spiced Sugar Cookies with Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting

A Change Would Do You Good by Sheryl Crow
Today we're making little changes.  Little changes that bring about a big impact.  How does the adage go - "A change is as good as a rest."  It's as true with food as it is in life.  Sheryl's kicky tune has you contemplating where you can maybe make some changes.  It's the end of summer.  Sigh! There are all sorts of changes going on around us, of which we have no control.  We might as well harness the spirit of the seasons and celebrate changes in a happy way - like with these spiced up Sugar Cookies!

Although I'm sad to see summer end, I reluctantly have to admit how much I adore the autumn time.  The colors of the leaves are warming and the smells of the fallen leaves mingled with the scent of fireplaces being fired up produce all sorts of inside hugs.  If only it didn't have to herald the upcoming cold and dreary months of winter!  

I've really been wanting to make some pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies.  But I didn't want them to be the usual.  I was hankering for a change.  How could I get the ingredients to reflect the season?  I figured I could add spices to the dough, but I also knew that that would tinge the color of the dough.  I had to come to terms with the idea of a "not-so-bright" looking dough.  I get hung up on stuff like this sometimes.  It annoys me to no end.  I finally decided I was OK with the flecked and beige-ish cookie since the frosting would be the focal point anyway.

And then, what to do with the frosting to give it a makeover as well.  My first thought was maple - just because that is a very dominant flavor this time of year.  I'm not a huge maple-flavoring fan, though.  I like the syrup.  But don't be trying to get me to eat some maple ice cream, or maple candy, or take a maple doughnut!  I would rather have no pastry at all than have a maple-flavored one.

But, then we took the grandkids to a pumpkin patch.  Duh!  They're going to be pumpkin cookies!  Why not try adding some pumpkin puree to my buttercream frosting recipe?!  Now, I LOVE pumpkin!   I'll take pumpkin in pies, cookies, pastas, breads - it's all a big, fat, green light when it comes to pumpkin!  I started envisioning the little jack-o-lanterns right away.  I knew I had my task figured out!

Small changes is all it took to create a truly divine version of an already great classic!  I couldn't help myself - I caught this little fella unawares!
He was delicious!  The flavors of the frosting really emphasize the spices in the cookies - and the spices in the cookie help the pumpkin in the frosting sing.  And that little bit of chocolate just makes it that much better!  I added a little food coloring to the frosting to help intensify the orange color.  That yellow color in the eyes and mouth of the jack-o-lanterns is the natural color of the frosting.

Spiced Sugar Cookies
3 c. flour (400 g)
1 c. sugar (200 g)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 c. butter, softened
1 egg
3 T. cream or milk
2 t. almond extract

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.  Add the butter and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.  In a separate bowl, mix together the egg with the cream and almond extract.  Add the egg mixture to the mixing bowl and stir until the dough comes together.

Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and cover well.  Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least a half hour.  After the dough is chilled, work with half at a time and roll the dough until about 1/4" thick and cut into desired shapes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake the cookies for 6 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through baking time.  Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on rack.  Frost!

Pumpkin Buttercream Frosting
Printable Recipe Card
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar (410 g)
1 c. unsalted butter, softened (227 g)
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. cinnamon
2 T. heavy cream
red and yellow food coloring, if desired

In a large mixer bowl, cream together the powdered sugar and the butter until it comes together.  Add the pumpkin puree and continue beating until creamy and smooth - 3 - 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, and the cream and beat until it's blended.  If needed, you can add more cream to get the consistency you desire.  Add food coloring, if desired.


  1. I bet I know who will eat the most, yep those little gremlins who visit you!
    Look good!

    1. Sadly, the little gremlins had to go home yesterday! But I have friends with gremlins that are always happy to help!

  2. And a sister with a gremlin! :-)

  3. Hey there, can I put in a recipe request for spiced baked pumpkin seeds?

    1. I will investigate the pumpkin seed venture soon. We should be carving pumpkins in the near future!

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you! I love the frosting. LOVE!