Perfect for an autumn party or a Halloween celebration!
In Wisconsin, where I lived for the first 27 years of my life, fall arrived when it was “supposed” to. When the calendar flipped to September, nights seemed to suddenly (almost magically) turn cool and crisp. Perfect V’s of wild geese were familiar sights, honking their way south through clear autumn skies, enjoying a zillion dazzling hues of crimson and gold below. It was definitely the time to turn in summer-whites and pull out plaids, sweaters and corduroys.
Not so much here in North Carolina. Summer days, in this part of the country, seem to roll on and on… We’re creeping up to the last week of September and the forecast for today is the low 90’s. Yikes! And here I am, longing to wear sweatshirts, leggings and scarves. The way it’s “supposed” to be…
I know cool autumn days are coming, we’re just not quite there yet. There’s one funny thing though, that always seems like a “promise” of fall to me, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate. It’s the big displays of candy corn, candy pumpkins and other Halloween treats that begin to show up here, there and everywhere. My favorite are the little orange and green pumpkins and mysteriously, a bag (or two) often ends up in my cart. Hmmm…
In addition to being a fun symbol of fall, I think the pumpkins are super cute. As soon as I saw them this year, I got an idea to try out a thumb-print type cookie with a candy pumpkin right in the center. A few days ago, I decided to give it a whirl.
I tried one recipe that didn’t work at all. It was tasty but the cookies were really flat. Then I remembered an old favorite, never-fail shortbread recipe. I found it years ago on the Land of Lakes website and have used it as a basis for all kinds of cookies. The recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients, it’s easy to throw together and the results are buttery, crisp and super delicious.
To go with the fall theme, I adapted the Land of Lakes recipe, using brown sugar instead of white and adding a spoonful of pumpkin pie spice.
After the dough is chilled for a bit, it’s rolled into balls which are tossed in Demerara sugar before baking. Demerara (Turbinado can also be used) sugar is large grained raw sugar. It has a crunchy texture and adds a shimmery look to cookies, cakes and other desserts. You’ll find it in most larger grocery stores in the sugar section or online.
The pumpkins would melt in the oven so they can’t be added before baking. Instead, I tucked one into the center of each shortbread cookie just as they emerged from the oven. Some of the cookies cracked slightly when I added the pumpkins. But they can be easily pushed back together while hot and nobody will know.
Need a delicious, sweet snack for a autumn party or a Halloween celebration? Want to surprise your co-workers with a treat that will make them smile?
It doesn’t take much hands-on time to whip up a batch of these Pumpkin Shortbread Cookies and they’re such a fun way to celebrate fall (no matter what the thermometer reads)!
LOTS OF PEOPLE ASK WHAT KIND OF COOKWARE, SMALL APPLIANCES, CUTLERY, ETC. I USE IN THE KITCHEN. HERE’S WHAT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup Demerara (or Turbinado) sugar*
- candy pumpkins
- Combine butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Cover; refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Place Demerara sugar in a large shallow bowl.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls**. Roll dough balls in Demerara sugar and place them 2 inches apart on prepared sheet pans.
- Bake 14-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and immediately, place a candy pumpkin in the center of each cookie. Press down gently, as far as you can. If cookie cracks when inserting pumpkin, just push it back together and hold in place for 2-3 seconds. Cool completely.
**I use a 1½ tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop up the dough. It's an easy way to keep the cookies a uniform size. You can also weigh the dough. Mine were about 20g.