Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing
Some of my favorite people in this world are leaving me. The advertising agency industry is a big revolving door: waves of newbie arrivals and seasons of bittersweet departures. Having worked in the ad world for six years now, I still get upset when the best individuals you work with move on. In the last year and a half, 10 colleagues of mine have decided to pursue bigger things. It breaks my heart that I will not get to see their faces everyday, talk reality TV nonsense in the kitchen, grab cocktails after work hours, and miss out on their creative brilliance.
I hate seeing them go but there’s nothing I wish more than their success and fulfillment.
I’ve been reminiscing precious times with my colleagues who are my dear friends including a super rad Super Bowl potluck party my agency hosted. Food, beer, games, laughter, and mockery were shared among us peers. It was probably one of the most genuine “fun time” moment I had with my colleagues in a while. I made Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing for the potluck. It was such a hit at the party that two of my co-workers asked for the recipe so they could make it the next day at a baking party they were going to.
These cookies are cakey and soft, topped with icing made of browned butter. Imagine eating a cupcake top (like slicing off the top of the cupcake) with a spoonful of delectable frosting. That’s the experience you get when you make and eat these cookies.
Flavor-wise these cookies are very fall/winter inspired. It has the same ingredients as a pumpkin pie custard: pumpkin purée, evaporated milk, and good ‘ol spices. Complementing these luscious cookies is browned butter icing, made of browned butter (obviously), powdered sugar, and evaporated milk. The icing is pretty sweet. Go easy if you don’t want the cookies to be too sweet.
I got this recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine’s special Holiday cookie issue that came out back in 2005. The entire issue was devoted to anything and everything cookies. Delicate cookies, chewy cookies, crumbly cookies, cakey cookies, you name it! Each recipe also came with a fabulous photo (which is absolutely mandatory now in modern times).
Since the probability of acquiring this particular Holiday issue is uncertain, or should I say impossible, I will share the recipe here. My one piece of advice to prevent this dilemma in the future? Buy them when they come out. Period. It costs more than a regular issue but the collection of recipes and ideas are endless. A magazine issue you’ll keep for a really long time, if not always.
Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing
Recipe from 2006 Holiday issue of Martha Stewart Living. Makes about 5-6 dozen.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 14-oz. can solid-pack pumpkin (I just used the normal sized 15 oz. can)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons or 1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk, plus more if needed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Make cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla; mix until well-blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture on low-speed and mix just until combined.
3. Transfer some of the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (such as Ateco #806). Pipe 1 1/2 inch rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until top springs back, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire rack for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely.
4. Make icing: Put confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately add browned butter to confectioner’s sugar, scraping any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan. Add evaporated milk and vanilla, stir until smooth.
5. Spread about a teaspoon icing onto each cookie. If icing stiffens, stir in more evaporated milk, a little at a time. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.