Perfect pumpkin cookies
PUBLISHED: 09:29 20 October 2015 | UPDATED: 13:20 31 October 2015
Linda Duffin knows a trick or two about making irresistible Hallowe’en treats
My husband and his eldest sister were brought up within earshot of Bentwaters air base, with Voodoos and Phantoms screaming over their house. But growing up in the late 1950s when rationing had only just been phased out, some of their most vivid childhood memories are of trips to the PX, the American general store on the base.
It was an Aladdin’s Cave of unheard of and otherwise unobtainable riches. Jelly beans, giant beef steaks, Coca Cola, maple syrup and peanut butter cookies. It all came in big brown paper sacks, just like you see in Hollywood movies, usually just before the bottom falls out of the bag and the hero and heroine meet over a rolling apple.
I hadn’t realised there could be a significant difference between what we call biscuits and Americans call cookies until an American friend gave me a version of this recipe. The first time I made them I rang her to ask if I had done something wrong.
As a child I loved Maryland cookies, a sort of chocolate chip cookie, but they were crisp like English biscuits. These, on the other hand, have a slight sugary crackle on the outside and but are soft and light, almost chewy, on the inside. Fragrant with warm, gentle spices, they are extremely more-ish.
This month the trick-or-treaters will be out in force. Instead of buying bags of expensive sweets to hand out on the doorstep, try baking a tray of these pumpkin cookies. You need only a small amount of pumpkin for the recipe, so either set some aside when you’re roasting one as a side dish for dinner, or use tinned pumpkin, available from most supermarkets.
(makes about 36)
110g unsalted butter
110g granulated sugar + 50g for rolling
80g pumpkin purée,
60 ml black treacle
420g plain flour
2 tspn baking powder
1 tspn ground cinnamon
1 tspn ground ginger
½ tspn ground cloves
½ tspn salt
Heat oven to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4. If you’re using fresh pumpkin, cut it into wedges, scoop out the seeds and bake until soft, about 30-40 minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, scrape out the pulp and purée it until smooth. Beat the butter in a large bowl. Add 110g sugar, the pumpkin, molasses and egg and continue beating until well combined and fluffy. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and cloves into the pumpkin mixture. Beat at a low speed with an electric hand mixer until flour is thoroughly mixed in. Put in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up. Put the remaining sugar on a deep plate. Form the cookie mix into walnut-sized balls and roll in the sugar. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, 5cm apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies look cracked. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before putting them on a wire rack to get cold. These will freeze for up to three months once cooked, but they’re unlikely to last that long.