Fudgy Spiced Pumpkin Cookies
'Tis the season
It’s somehow October, which in North America equals pumpkin and apple and cinnamon everything until peppermint season hits the day after Thanksgiving. I’m here for it — these toasty, cozy flavors are my absolute favorite! Last week we started out with a good old apple crumble and today we’re diving into another quintessential fall baked good: pumpkin cookies.
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Surprisingly, this is my first foray into pumpkin cookies. They’ve been on my “to tackle” list for years but have gotten pushed aside for other baked goods like pumpkin sourdough and pumpkin spice latte pie. But the time has come!
As with apple crumble, there is no shortage of pumpkin cookie recipes out there. So when I decided to create one, I set out to fulfill several criteria to ensure this wouldn’t just be like every other pumpkin cookie:
Fudgy/chewy texture, not cakey. Adding pumpkin to cookies tends to make them soft and cakey, due to the squash’s high starch and water content. There’s a time and place for that style of cookie but it’s not what I envisioned for my version.
Substantial amount of pumpkin puree in the recipe. My personal recipe writing stance is that if I include something in the title of a recipe, it must truly be main ingredient, not a couple tablespoons hiding in the back. In this recipe, the amount of pumpkin roughly equals the amounts of butter, sugar, and flour. That makes me happy.
No blotting pumpkin puree with paper towels. Yes, we have to deal with the extra moisture from the pumpkin, but I feel like this method is wasteful and not all that accurate. So let’s find a better way.
No dough chilling required. It’s always a bonus! You will need to let some browned butter cool for a little while, but once the dough is mixed you can get on to baking straight away.
These cookies aren’t difficult to make, but they rely on a couple special techniques to ensure the best fudgy and spiced pumpkin cookie experience.
To account for the extra moisture in pumpkin, I knew I wanted to brown the butter to both remove some of the water typically found in cookies and enhance the nutty flavor. However, I go a step further: after browning the butter, I add the pumpkin puree and the spices to the pot and continue cooking the mixture. This drives off water in the pumpkin while also infusing it (and the butter) deeply with spices. (I use this same technique in my pumpkin pies for an ultra flavorful filling.)
How do you know when you’ve cooked the mixture enough? Weigh the empty pot before adding the butter, then weigh it during the pumpkin cooking process until you reach the target weight (exact numbers in the recipe).
The second technique I’m going to ask you to employ is the Cookie Smash. In addition to water, pumpkin adds starch and heft to cookies, slowing their spread. I press the cookies down with a spatula partway through baking to compress the centers (makes them extra fudgy!), ensure they bake all the way through, and give them a pretty crinkled top. I tried a number of other ways to get the cookies to spread more on their own (pre-flattening, different sugar/flour ratios, lower oven temp) but this is the one I settled on for the most consistent results combined with my ideal sweetness/spice level.
OK, let’s get to the recipe!