Pumpkin Cookies with Brown-Butter Icing

Shane went to an Oktoberfest party this weekend, and of course I wanted to bake something for him to bring. Believe it or not, these cookies were the third treat I attempted to make for the party. The first two? Well, let’s just say they didn’t turn out very well. I completely under-baked another batch of cookies I attempted and while they were still edible, I didn’t want to send semi-gooey cookies with Shane. The pan of brownies I had such high hopes for developed a weird crunchy top as they baked (not the thin, crispy top that’s so enviable). This crunchy top puffed in the oven then completely caved and cracked as it cooled. Not good eats. I was beginning to think I had completely lost my baking mojo until these pumpkin cookies came along and saved the day.

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown-Butter Icing

Anytime I bake something with pumpkin I’m inclined to combine it with cream cheese frosting – it’s easily one of my favorite combinations. When I came upon this recipe though, I knew if anything could compete with cream cheese frosting on pumpkin, it might be brown butter. Nutty and rich, it not only smells amazing, it makes everything it touches better. It didn’t disappoint – these cookies are probably one of the best treats to emerge from my kitchen in months. Soft, cakey and warmly spiced, the cookies would be great even if you skipped the icing. But please don’t :) It’s super easy to make, and works so well on these cookies. I loved that you could see the little flecks of brown butter in the icing. Shane said the cookies were very well received at the party, and I know I’ve eaten more than my fair share!

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown-Butter Icing

While we’re on the topic of pumpkin, I thought I’d take a minute to highlight some of my favorite pumpkin recipes from the archives. These are the recipes I long to make when pumpkin season arrives each fall :)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Streusel Buns

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Streusel Buns

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Pumpkin Spice Scones with Maple Glaze

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Yeast Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Yeast Bread

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown-Butter Icing
from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

{You’ll see the recipe calls for piping the batter onto the baking sheets, which I think just ensures the cookies have a nice, consistent shape. You could use a cookie scoop to dish them out if you’re looking for a shortcut, but they may not be perfectly round.}

Cookies
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup half-and-half (or evaporated milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon half-and-half (or evaporated milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs until combined. With the mixer on low, add the pumpkin, half-and-half and vanilla and beat until very well blended, about 2 minutes. Keep the mixer on low and add the dry ingredients. Beat until just combined.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 to 1 1/2 inches between them. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies spring back when lightly pressed. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes than remove them to the rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining batter.

To make the icing: Add the confectioners’ sugar to a large heatproof bowl. Put the butter in a small saucepan, set over medium heat and let it start melting. Continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter becomes golden brown and smells nutty (be patient and watch carefully, it can go from brown to burnt quickly). Remove it from the heat and pour it over the confectioners’ sugar, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as well. Add the half-and-half and vanilla and stir until the icing is smooth. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 1 teaspoon of icing on each cookie. (If the icing stiffens before you get them all frosted (it probably will), add a little more half-and-half and stir vigorously to lighten it up.)

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.