Spiced Pumpkin Cookies Cakes - made October 31, 2010 from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy (book #4)
I was so busy with moving that I barely noticed October was ending and Halloween was upon me before I knew it. I moved to a new development that isn’t completely built out or even fully occupied yet so there was a distinct lack of trick or treaters in my neighborhood. Which was just as well since I only had time to buy one bag of chocolate and even that I forgot at my parents’ house. But my concession to Halloween was to try out this recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cakes. I was a little skeptical when I read the directions about piping the batter because that automatically means it’s going to be a soft batter. And sure enough it was, almost the consistency of cake batter. Which worried me that the cookies would spread into lakes of flat, thin cookies. Fortunately, my new kitchen has a convection oven so I gambled that they would bake in the convection setting before they spread too much.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised that the cookies didn’t really spread and instead baked in almost the same size and shape I dropped them into (using two spoons as I didn’t want to bother with piping anything). They did flatten a bit but only enough to round out into more even shapes than my plopping of cookie dough/batter onto the cookie sheet. These have the texture of little pumpkin cakes, rather than “cookies”. Think whoopie pies but the pumpkin cake version. Someday I’ll have to make the traditional whoopie pies of chocolate cake cookies with vanilla filling. In the meantime, these were a great substitute. I loved the pumpkin cakes, the molasses was just the right touch and the cream cheese filling complemented the cookies very well. And this is from someone who normally doesn’t like cream cheese.
The only thing I would caution is to not underbake these. I had them in the convection setting for 10-12 minutes but another minute or two wouldn’t have hurt. Once they cool, they’re really moist and the tops get a little sticky, especially if they’re not baked long enough. I wouldn’t advocate overbaking them either but these won’t set like traditional cookies when underbaked. Instead they’ll just be mushy cakes if you don’t bake them long enough. These make for an awesome fall dessert or afternoon snack. One recipe made for a little more than 18 sandwich cookies with a (to me) generous amount of filling. Another winning recipe from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book.
For the cookie cakes
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup molasses
1 large egg
1 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup whole milk
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
For the cream cheese filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
¾ teaspoons freshly grated orange zest (about ½ orange)
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. To make the cookie cakes: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the brown and white sugars on low speed to get rid of any lumps. Add the butter, and beat together until light and fluffy, 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Add the molasses and egg, and mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the pumpkin puree and mix to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
4. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk. Mix well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Blend thoroughly, but do not overbeat.
5. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cookies comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before filling. Do not underbake.
6. To make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, zest and vanilla. Start mixing on low speed and then continue on medium speed until just fluffy and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overbeat.
7. To complete the cookie cakes: Turn half of the cookies upside down onto a freshly lined cookie sheet.
8. Using a pastry bag fitted with a ¼-inch round pastry tip (Ateco #801 or use a resealable plastic bag with a corner cut off or a teaspoon), pipe or place about 1 teaspoon of filling onto each upside-down cookie cake. Place the remaining cookie cake halves (right side up!) on top. I skipped the pastry bag and just spread with a small spatula. Be careful though as the cookies have the texture of cake and might fall apart if not handled gently.
9. Refrigerate briefly until set, 15 to 20 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.