Pumpkin Cookies

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When we were kids, my mother always made our holiday dessert recipes from the Ideals Family Dessert Cookbook. I have such fond memories of the Pumpkin and Christmas Cookies from this treasured cookbook. In fact, I have an entire collection of cookie cutters which my mother started for me when I was young. To this day, I enjoy making cookies for my family and friends, thanks to my mother!

Creating family recipes that bring us together and evoke happy memories is at the heart of Family Food Roots. This post is an ode to my own personal memory of special holidays celebrated with wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen!

I tested this recipe with both canned and fresh pumpkin and fresh was definitely better. The cookies were bigger and more flavorful with a lighter consistency.  And, it’s easy to do! I’ve included the process in my Root Notes below. If you’re in a hurry or can’t find sugar pumpkins, feel free to use canned. These cookies are also more ‘cake-like’ than most which was a pleasant surprise for my taste-tester husband. Warning…they’ll disappear quickly so you may want to double the recipe!

What’s at the root of this food? Good memories, great smells and soft, spiced Pumpkin Cookies with a brown sugar glaze! I hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane by baking some Pumpkin Cookies this holiday season for your friends and family!


Pumpkin Cookies

Adapted from “The Ideals Family Dessert Cookbook”

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg, unbeaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup dates or nuts (optional)

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice into a bowl. Using a wire whisk, mix to combine. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients at once, blending only until there is no trace of flour. Fold in dates or nuts if using.

Drop in walnut-sized mounds on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Keep remaining batter in refrigerator during baking. Bake at 350º for 12-14 minutes.

Brown Sugar Glaze

  • 3 T butter
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Measure first 3 ingredients into a pan and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread on cookies.


Root Notes

  • I substituted butter for margarine. See my article on Butter vs. Margarine for more information. Let’s just say that some margarine brands are trans-fat-laden land mines to be avoided! And those without trans fats contain oils which are not good for us according to some experts. I feel comfortable using butter in moderation based on my research. For meals and toast, we use a butter/olive oil blend which is the best of both worlds.
  • I tested the recipe with chocolate chips but not with nuts or dates. I must say they were good, but we preferred them without the chocolate chips.
  • When adding powdered sugar to the frosting, I used a small whisk and got most of the lumps out. I found that sifting powdered sugar takes way too long so just keep stirring!
  • Fresh pumpkin – Sugar (also called pie or sweet) pumpkins work great for baking because they  are less fibrous. I also noticed fresh pumpkin is less bitter than canned. To prepare, cut it in half, clean out the seeds, put face down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet sprayed with olive oil and bake at 350º for 60-70 minutes. Once cooled, scooped out the pumpkin flesh and puree it in a food processor. The pumpkin was smooth and creamy and didn’t require any straining.

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