These Irish Shortbread Pumpkin Patch Cookies are fun and delicious with an easy decorating technique. They are sure to brighten any day and, with the pretty printable labels, make a great gift for celebrating fall, Halloween or Thanksgiving!
Each year when fall rolls around, ideas for pumpkin recipes start rolling around in my head, especially pumpkin cookies. If you check our archives we've got a bunch of fun pumpkin cookie renditions like these Pumpkin Shortbread Cookies, our Crispy, Chewy Pumpkin Cookies and even some Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, to name a few. This year, I've spent the last couple weeks working on these Irish Shortbread Pumpkin Patch Cookies! It took a number of tries and lots of sugar, flour and butter, but I think they're perfect now and ready for your fall enjoyment!
A shortlist of ingredients.
Speaking of flour, sugar and butter, that's about all that's needed for these fun Pumpkin Patch Cookies. A little cornstarch, a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt finish off the list of ingredients. It's my beloved shortbread recipe that I've had in my collection for what seems like forever.
Scott brought this treasure home one day many years ago from work. An Irish co-worker had brought in a plate of these shortbread cookies and they were so good my husband knew that I had to have the recipe! I've tweaked it a bit over the years and made lots of fun cut out cookie variations, like these Easy Christmas Shortbread Cookies, these Valentine Shortbread Cookies, these Red, White and Blue Shortbread Cookies, these Snowy Night in the Mountains Shortbread Cookies and many more! The cookies always come out perfect; crisp, buttery and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Perfectly rolled cookie dough
There was one problem though. All of these cut out shortbread cookies involve rolling the dough then using cookie cutters to cut the various shapes. But rolling evenly consistent dough has never been my forte. It seemed that some of my cookies were always too thin while others were way too thick.
A couple of years ago I learned a little trick to make rolling out this shortbread dough super easy. The trick is actually an amazing rolling pin that makes it impossible to mess up. It's adjustable with removable discs (in 1/16, ⅙, ¼, and ⅜-inch sizes) that make it so easy to roll perfectly even dough (even for me!). Just screw on the desired size disc and roll away!
Easy dough, easy icing
The icing or glaze ingredient list is also short and sweet (literally!); powdered sugar, half and half (or milk) and vanilla. A few drops of orange food coloring make it come alive with beautiful, vibrant fall color.
On top of having a super simple ingredient cast of characters, these Pumpkin Patch Cookies can be stirred up with one bowl and no mixer. Of course, if you prefer to use a mixer, that's totally up to you. Both ways work! Personally, I love just pulling out one bowl and a spatula or wooden spoon.
Dip, Drip and Flip
I'm not much of a cookie decorator, but I've discovered a really easy and fun technique that produces beautiful results with minimal labor. I call it my "Dip, Drip and Flip" technique and the name explains exactly how it works. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so Scott took a few shots to show you just how easy this decorating method is. Ready?
- Pick up a baked cookie and hold it on the edges between your thumb and forefinger, with the top of the cookie facing the icing.
- Lower the cookie down into the icing and tilt it slightly in all directions to make sure all the surface is coated.
- Pull the cookie up out of the icing and let the excess drip back down into the bowl.
- Admire your beautifully glazed cookie!
Before the icing dries, I like to add a little finishing touch that makes these Pumpkin Patch Shortbread Cookies look like they were just snatched from the pumpkin patch (or a fancy bake shop). With nonpareils and a small spoon, I sprinkle on a green stem and a few dangly leaves, a simple touch that adds lots of pizzaz. Check out how easy it is:
These cookies are not only delicious, but they come out looking so festive and pretty - pretty enough to share! So for you, I made two gift tags to go with them. They're the perfect treat to brighten up a family member, neighbor or friend's day! If you'd like a free printable PDF for the gift tag labels, just let me know in the comment section below and we'll be happy to email them to you.
In addition, I thought these Pumpkin Patch Cookies would also make a lovely Thanksgiving gift, so I'm including a "Happy Thanksgiving" gift tag as well. If you request the tags, both will be included as printable PDFs.
So pull out butter, powdered sugar, flour and cornstarch and celebrate the season with a batch of these Pumpkin Patch Cookies! They're sure to bring smiles, appreciation and lots of "mmmmms" when they bite into these crisp, buttery melt-in-your-mouth cookies!
Café Tips for making this Irish Shortbread Pumpkin Patch Cookies
- Because there’s no mixer used, the butter needs to be very soft when mixing up these Pumpkin Patch Cookies. That can be difficult if your house is cool, even if you let the butter sit out for hours. A short stint in the microwave on the very lowest power level (on mine, it’s 10%, check to see what yours is) works like magic to soften butter. You’ll need to experiment a bit with your microwave though, as they’re all different. Start with 20 or 30-second increments at power level 10 until you learn how long your microwave will take to get the butter nice and soft, but not melted.
- Different brands of butter will vary in their water content which can change the consistency of the dough. If your dough seems too wet to roll out, just knead it in some extra flour until it's more pliable and rollable.
- I usually just use vanilla extract in my glaze, but feel free to use other flavorings. Almond, vanilla, orange, lemon and coconut extracts are also delicious.
- Flavor extracts can vary in intensity. It’s better to start with a small amount in the icing, then take a little taste. You can always add more, but you sure can’t remove it!
- The recipe calls for a one hour (or longer) chill for the cutout cookies. If I’m in a big hurry, I just pop them into the freezer for 30 minutes.
- A few tips on rolling and cutting out cookies:
- Keep your work surface and rolling pin lightly dusted with flour.
- I also like to rub the cutting edge of my cookie cutter in a little flour in between each cookie.
- Press fairly firmly when cutting out the cookies, but don’t twist the cookie cutter as the shape will get distorted.
- If you don’t have room in your refrigerator to chill the cookies on two sheet pans, just transfer all of them to one pan after cutting. Then later, once they’re chilled, you can divide them between the two pans for baking.
- Occasionally, some of the cookies will be slightly puffed on the top when removed from the oven. You can give them a nice flat top by pushing on the top gently with a metal spatula.
- Sometimes the glaze for these cookies will have lots of bubbles. These bubbles will cause imperfections in the surface of the glazed cookies. Simply stir the glaze very slowly to get rid of the bubbles. If you do end up with a bubble when you flip the cookie over, just pop it gently with your finger.
- I love these pre-cut parchment paper sheets when making cookies. They're the perfect size for a cookie sheet pan and also come in a nice flat box for easy storing. This 100-pack will last forever – and save you some time and hassle.
- You'll need a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter to make these Pumpkin Patch Cookies. I used the smaller one in this cookie cutter set.
- You'll also need some bright green nonpareils for the stem and leaves. You can find these at your local craft store or online.
- I like to place my cookies on a cooling rack set over a sheet pan after glazing and before adding the green sprinkles. The sheet pan will catch all the runaway sprinkles which can otherwise end up all over your kitchen.
Thought for the day:
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death
or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear other’s results and ideas for variations.
- 8 ounces very soft salted butter 2 sticks
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place soft butter and vanilla in a medium-size mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula until nice and smooth. Add powdered sugar. Mix together until fluffy and well blended.
Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch evenly over the top. Stir until flour is incorporated and the dough is shaggy. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and form it into a ball. Knead the dough a few times on the well-floured surface until fairly smooth then form into a ball again and press with your hands into a flat disk.
On a floured work surface, roll out dough to a ⅜-inch thickness. Keep work surface, dough and rolling pin dusted with flour.
Using a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter cut into shapes and place on prepared pans. Re-roll scraps as many times as needed to use up the dough.
Place cutouts in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove cookies from the refrigerator and bake for 12-16 minutes or until light golden brown. Rotate pans halfway through, if needed, for even browning. Cool completely before icing.
Combine powdered sugar, half and half and vanilla extract in a medium-size bowl. Mix until smooth. The glaze should be thick, but pourable. Add a little more half and half if it's too thick.
Dip the tip of a small knife into the orange food coloring and swirl some of it into the icing. Stir well and add more food color until the desired shade of orange is achieved. Transfer the glaze to a shallow bowl.
Holding onto the edges of a cookie, dip the top surface into the glaze, being sure all of the surface touches the glaze. Pull the cookie up and out of the glaze. Allow excess glaze to drip back into a separate bowl. When the glaze stops dripping (this will take a while, quickly flip the cookie right side up and give it a gentle jiggle to allow the glaze to flow evenly over the surface. See the picture above in the post.
After each cookie is glazed and still wet, immediately add the green sprinkles for the stem and leaves with a small spoon. See the picture above in the post.
Repeat with remaining cookies. Allow the cookies to dry thoroughly before packaging and/or stacking to store. I usually let them sit out overnight.
See Café Tips above for lots of extra tips and instructions.
The recipe makes 15 large (3-inch) or two dozen smaller (2-inch) cookies.
Once cookies are dry, they can be stacked in an airtight container.