October 23, 2010

baking therapy: pumpkin cookies with browned butter icing

Sadly, I think summer might officially be over in San Francisco. The past few days have been chilly, drizzly and grey. I’d complain more, but the end of summer means the start of fall …  new ingredients to choose from, heartier recipes to make and PUMPKIN EVERYTHING!

This week’s baking therapy showcases fall flavors- pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Plus, who doesn’t love browned butter?!

I halved the recipe because I didn’t think Jordan and I could consume 6 dozen pumpkin cookies over the next few days, but the whole recipe is below.

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Icing, adapted from Martha Stewart Living

For the cookies
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 ounces)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the icing
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk,
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the cookies

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla; mix until well blended. Add flour mixture; mix until combined.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip (you could also use large ziplock with the tip cut off one corner). Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until tops spring back, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.

For the icing

Put confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately add butter to confectioners’ sugar, scraping any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan. Add evaporated milk and vanilla; stir until smooth. Spread about 1 teaspoon icing onto each cookie. If icing stiffens, stir in more evaporated milk, a little at a time. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Conclusions: The cookies are soft and delicate with a subtle pumpkin flavor. Sadly, I over-iced them and the browned butter flavor was a bit overpowering.  A lighter coating of icing next time, plus a little bit more of the spices and they’ll be spot on. Despite their imperfections, with a cup of tea or coffee these little guys are delightful!

-Emily

fall dinner for four

Last night, my sister and my cousin joined us for dinner. It was another rainy day and I’d decided soup seemed to be the perfect cozy fit. Jordan was so sweet and did all the work for this delicious meal while I gabbed with the girls.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Garlic
Butternut squash, about 3 pounds, cut into large chunks
Small onion, cut into large chunks
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
6 cloves of garlic
4 cups vegetable stock
1 t ginger, pealed and grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss squash, onion, carrot and garlic with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to an hour.

Put roasted veggies in a large pot or dutch oven. Add 3 cups of stock and ginger. Simmer, covered for 20 – 30 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Season once again and serve with crusty bread and a salad.

Jordan did a beautiful job emulsifying the vinaigrette for our spinach and arugula salad. He’s such a pro!

Conclusions: Positively fall! This soup is so hearty it makes a perfectly substantial meal all on its own. The crusty caraway bread from Tartine Bakery and acidic spinach and arugula salad were perfect accompaniments. Hurray for fall and the start of squash season!

-Emily