Pumpkin-Decorated Sugar Cookies

Well, I’ve gone and done it again. I took a perfectly good recipe and just had to lay my grubby little nutrition paws on it. This time, the victim was my Best-Ever-Knock-Your-Socks-Off sugar cookie (and by “my,” I really mean the one I found on Bake at 350 and fell in love with, not one that I created and tested myself). It was really harmless – I just don’t buy all purpose flour at my apartment because I feel like I don’t use flour enough to justify two different kinds. I only ever have white whole wheat flour in stock, so I decided to try it with this recipe and just see how it would go.

For the first time ever, everything my Food Prep professors told me about each flour having its place made sense. My stubbornness did not win, at least not completely. You see, I knew deep inside that whole wheat flour was not chemically the same as all purpose: it attracts more water, drying out the product; it gives the finished product a darker tint and a hearty little chew; it’s just not the same, and apparently the tender crumb of a truly wonderful sugar cookie depends on at least the partial actual of good ole’ all purpose. My dough was a little dry and the cookies cracked more than usual. The giant smear of buttercream on top somewhat masks this more intense version of a sugar cookie, and they certainly do not taste bad – in fact, several people who tried them (myself included) admitted to appreciating the extra bite from the fiber, but I also know that I will likely refrain from a 100% flour swap for this recipe again. I’m sure I’ll test it, maybe ¼ cup at a time, but I have a feeling these cookies will be the kind of dessert that you just accept as being essentially one big batch of empty calories, and enjoy them for what they are: simply delicious.

You can find the recipe for this beautiful, perfect, everything-I-had-ever-dreamed-a-cookie-should-be recipe in an earlier post on Floptimism. On the other hand, if you’re interested in a whole wheat sugar cookie that packs a little bit of a hearty, chewy punch, check out my last attempt at whole wheat-a-tizing a cookie. They’re absolutely not traditional, but they have a nice bite to them that the delicate, traditional ones lack – and the dough, I think, was more amenable to the whole wheat switch than this one here wound up being.

And, if you want to learn how to make these adorable pumpkin sugar cookies just in time for Halloween, keep reading!

One Year Ago: Kahlua Ice Cream

Decorated Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Yield: 2 ½ dozen

The “Ingredients”
1 batch pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies1
orange (or red + yellow) and green food dye
2 pastry bags or 1 spatula, as you prefer
1 toothpick

The Method

Take ¼ cup of the frosting and reserve it in a separate container. Dye the remaining frosting orange (working gradually if you’re using a red + yellow combination so as not to over-tint in either direction). Spread or pipe (and then smooth out) each cookie with the orange frosting, leaving the stem of the pumpkin un-frosted for now.

By the time you get to the end, the first few cookies should be beginning to crust. Take the toothpick and draw shallow, slightly curved vertical lines through the buttercream to make the pumpkin indentations (I found that 4 looked best on mine). Set the orange frosting aside.

Using the other end of the toothpick along with the second pastry bag or spatula, apply a small amount of green icing to the stem of each pumpkin. You can apply more to the base of the stem and spread it out to span the middle 1/3 or so of the pumpkin top, or just follow the conservative rectangular region that the cookie cutter made.

Allow the cookies to crust and set for a few hours, then store in an airtight container until serving (though the closer you make them to the time they’re eaten, the better).

1Although I stuck with regular sugar cookies, adding a little bit of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice would just add to the seasonal cuteness of these cookies…in my opinion, anyway. Experiment! Any cookie that can withstand spreading much in the oven would be a good candidate for this decorating method.
2I used buttercream because I left all of my pastry bags, tips, and meringue powder that I use for royal icing at my parent’s house. In fact, I almost scrapped the idea of baking cookies altogether because I had been so bad at grabbing everything I needed while I was home the previous weekend. If you’d rather use royal icing (and I think I prefer the end product, as finicky and time consuming as decorating with royal icing can be), go for it – simply outline in orange, flood, set, then add thicker piping for the pumpkin grooves and a simple flooding in green for the stem. You can eve add thick curly green swirls coming off the stem for leaves/vines! Also, when I had planned to make royal icing, I had intended for these cookies to be jack-o-lanterns – not pumpkins – so you could also take some black icing and pipe on some triangular eyes and creepy/goofy grins!

What are your plans for Halloween? Have you already started celebrating? I’m away for the weekend to visit some friends and celebrate with them, and then it’s back to the trenches of school on Monday for the actual holiday. Still, living in my new apartment, I’m going to get trick-or-treaters for the first time! I already stocked up on candy and have my witch’s hat ready to go for when they start knocking. I can’t wait!

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