Pumpkin cookies with caramel brown butter frosting

My best friend has coined these things ‘pumpkin delights’ because they’re actually the most delightful and heavenly little cookies of all time. These are another of my grandma’s recipes, and certainly one of my favorites. They are soft and pillowy and cakey, with incredible frosting made by caramelizing brown sugar and butter. They are the perfect pumpkin cookie—with no fake pumpkin flavor or forced sweetness or too many spices. I can’t express how much I love them. If you’re going to bake anything this fall, bake these!

Pumpkin cookies

Yields 20-24 cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp salt
Parchment paper for baking

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix shortening and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer for 3-5 minutes on medium speed, until soft and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt, and whisk together. Set aside for now. Go back to your shortening/sugar mixture, and add in pumpkin, and mix for another minute. Add in egg and vanilla, and mix until just combined. Then, with the mixer on low, slowly pour in dry ingredients, and mix until just combined (do not over-mix). This dough is quite sticky and wet, so just be prepared to have messy hands during this step. Drop “balls” (they will not be round—they’ll be misshapen and whatever else—it doesn’t matter!) of the dough (about 2-3 T) onto cookie sheets covered in parchment paper. Bake for 11-12 minutes, until cookies are just set—they will have only turned golden brown in a couple of tiny pointed spots. They might seem really soft, but that’s OK. This is the key to keeping them so pillowy and melt-in-your-mouth. However, if you like a cookie with crisper edges, cook these a minute longer. They’ll still be delicious. Let cookies cool completely on baking sheets before frosting them. I like to keep them on the parchment covered baking sheets when I frost them, because it makes for much easier cleanup after the frosting fest.

Caramel Brown Butter Frosting

½ cup brown sugar
3 T milk
3 T butter
¾ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

In a small sauce pan over low to medium-low heat, heat up the sugar, milk, and butter until sugar is melted and mixture is uniform. Then, cook for about two minutes longer, stirring the whole time. The mixture should be bubbling a little bit (this is the sugar caramelizing and butter browning) and thickening and turning a golden brown color. It should also smell like the most delicious thing you’ve ever smelled. Remove from heat, and use a spatula to pour it into a bowl. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, and then add vanilla and powdered sugar. Stir together with a whisk until smooth, and use the whisk to drizzle frosting over cookies in whatever haphazard manner you’d like.


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