Friday, November 5, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

I spotted these little gems in my cookbook last night and wrote the ingredients on my grocery list.

And boy am I glad I did.  

So moist, light, pumpkin-spiced, delectable, fallish, and heavenly.

I love them.

A lot.

Probably too much.

And you will too when you make them. They are what I said and more. I was skeptical about the icing; I love my frosting, especially cream cheese frosting when it comes to pumpkin, and I didn't think the icing would meet my standards, but it was delicious! I had never done the brown butter thing before so that was fun to try too. They aren't too difficult to make and the recipe yields enough for a crowd.

As you may recall from these cookies, I altered Martha's method a bit because it didn't seem too realistic. I almost changed this one too, because the recipe said to pipe the batter onto the baking sheet...what?!? Who ever heard of piping cookies? Well I hadn't, so I wasn't going to. But I decided to go all Martha on this one and followed exactly what the recipe said. The cookie 'dough' is more like a thick cake batter, so the drop method probably wouldn't have looked quite right. Here's to fall and good ol' pumpkin!

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing
from Martha Stewart's Cookies
Prep: 60 minutes / Bake: 10-12 minutes
Yield: about 6 dozen (I halved the recipe when I made them!)

For the cookies:
2-3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/4 teaspoons ginger
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2-1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the icing:
4 cups powdered sugar
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla; mix on low until well blended. Add flour mixture and beat on low until combined.

3. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Transfer batter to a pastry bag (not all of it of course) fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip. I just used the bag without a tip. Pipe 1-1/2 inch circles onto parchment paper, about 1-inch apart.

4. Bake cookies until tops spring back, 10-12 minutes. Cool on sheets on racks 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack; let cool completely.

5. Make the icing. Put powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Then  butter about 3 minutes longer, swirling the pan occassionally, until golden brown. Immediately add butter to powered sugar, scraping any brown bits from pan. Add evaporated milk and vanilla; stir until smooth.

6. Spread icing on cookies, about 1 teaspoon each. If icing is too thick, add more evaporated milk. I added more and then a little too much. As you can see in the pictures, my icing was a little thin and slightly lumpy, but that's ok!

Oops! I dropped one frosting-side down.
According to Martha, these cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

My Review
  • Preparation: 3
    • These cookies took about 90 minutes start to finish, well worth it!
  • Taste: 5
    • These are amazing! My husband isn't quite as enthusiastic as me but they definitely won't disappoint anyone with tastebuds!
  • Cost: 5
    • I only had to buy evaporated milk and powdered sugar, the rest of the ingredients I had on hand.
  • Clean-up: 3
    • A little heavy on the dishes but that's ok, I washed them while I let the icing set. Two mixing bowls, saucepan, cooling rack, and baking sheet.
  • Changes
    • As I mentioned before, I cut the recipe in half. Lord knows I don't need 6 dozen cookies sitting around and tempting me all day!
    • I baked my cookies for 11 minutes and they were just perfect.
    • I didn't brown my butter long enough, so I will fix that next time.


  1. Oh my goodness! YUM! Even if Jerry wasn't too excited about them, I would have helped you get rid of them! I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but I'm super excited to see what you make when I'm there. (P.S. NO pressure!) :)


  3. Hello Monica.

    So secretly I have been stalking your cooking blog and have made a few recipes. Thanks so much!

    I just made these cookies and made a few changes that a lazy baker might find useful.

    I could not find my mixer - goes to show how often it gets used- so I hand mixed everything with a wooden spoon. I beat the eggs with a fork but otherwise just mixed until everything looked well blended. The batter was a little but lumpy but the cookies still turned out great.

    I do not have ginger on hand so I just increased the cinnamon and nutmeg by a little but to compensate.

    I do not have waxed paper, so I used aluminum foil instead. It worked just as well and made that part of clean up much easier.

    I also do not have pastry bags on hand at college. At times I have used a ziploc with a corner cut off but for 6 dozen cookies that seemed like a lot of work. I just used the old fashioned double spoon dallop method. I spooned dallops a little larger than a quarter onto the sheet and they turned out nice and round. I used the complete recipe (I want to freeze some for next weekend) and ended with five dozen larger sized cookies.

    My icing didnt turn out very well because I ran out of powdered sugar. It has great flavor and a nice brown color but is too runny because I was about a half a cup short of powdered sugar but had already added the other ingredients. We used it as a dipping sauce for the non frozen batch.

    While these cookies are delicious!!!!, they are not exactly healthy. Next time I might try using applesauce to replace part of the butter in the cookie batter. Also I dont think you need all the icing. The cookies are great by themselves so maybe half the icing would be ok with only a little bit on each cookie -or half if preferred plain.

    These cookies taste just like my mom's pumpkin bread but in cookie form! They are perfect for fall and great because I crave pumpkin but avoid pumpkin pie until Thanksgiving if possible. Hope these tips and ideas for the lazy baker helped! Thanks for sharing the recipe and I look forward to more!

    ~Kelsey Cullinan

  4. Thanks so much for your comment Kelsey! It was good to hear from you! I forgot about these little gems and now have the craving to make them!