Made with: ☑ Love ☐ Bacon
So let’s talk pumpkin. It’s the middle of fall, and although the pinnacle of the American pumpkin season, Thanksgiving, is still four weeks away, a lot of people are probably completely pumpkinned-out by this point.
I? Am not one of those people. If pumpkin season lasted all year long, I would be one happy Margaret. And so, when The Annual Pumpkining begins in late August, I start seeking out foods and drink which utilize this colorful squash. Most work days begin (or sometimes end) with pumpkin coffee. Pumpkin donuts are the delight of my mouth and the bane of my waistline. Pumpkin pie and custard are particular favorites of mine which I relegate to Thanksgiving, or else I would eat them until I regretted everything.
This season, I determined to do what I’d never done before: bake a successful pumpkin snickerdoodle. To me, a snickerdoodle has certain sensory characteristics which set it apart from your average cookie. It’s got visual appeal from the cracks formed in baking by the cream of tartar. The feel of a snickerdoodle when you take a bite is at first crisp, and then moist and a little crumbly. It’s a cookie on the crumbly end of the spectrum, not at all cakey, and the cinnamon-sugar aroma that permeates the kitchen when there are snickerdoodles baking is one which, to me, is a clear sign of autumn and early winter.
Most readily available pumpkin snickerdoodle recipes, are soft, cakey cookies; while these cookies are certainly delicious, they lacked the overall snickerdoodley crunch that I was looking for.
My first attempt to bake a crunchy pumpkin snickerdoodle was unsuccessful — my boyfriend compared the result to a pumpkin doughnut hole. They were very delicious, of course, but overall, not what I was going for. For the second cookie sheet’s worth I tried flattening the dough balls prior to baking, and ended up with flatter cookies of basically the same consistency as the initial little pumpkin lumps.
After the first batch, I decided it was probably the high level of moisture in the dough which was leading to such cakey little tidbits. The dough had been incredibly dense and sticky, despite the normal amount of flour, and the rolling process had been pretty messy. A little online reading led me to the realization that the combination of pumpkin and eggs was to blame for the consistency of the cookies, but I didn’t want to cut out the pumpkin, so I thought — why not just replace the egg with some pumpkin and otherwise (for the most part) follow the traditional snickerdoodle recipe?
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 stick (¼ cup) margarine or butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar (or ¾ cups raw sugar) plus 3-4 tbsp for cinnamon-sugar coating
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp vanilla
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon plus 1 tsp for cinnamon-sugar coating
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- In an electric mixer or food processor with a dough attachment, beat the softened butter for about 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin puree, about half the flour, 1 cup sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, vanilla, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the other half of the flour; a stiff dough will form.
- Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours, or until the butter has caused the dough to firm up completely. Take it out and poke it; if it's firm enough that you have to push down pretty hard to leave a dent, it's ready.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl -- this is what you'll be rolling the dough balls in. Take little chunks of cookie dough and roll them between your palms to create dough balls about ¾" to 1" in diameter. Coat the dough balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2-3" apart.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes; allow the cookies to sit on sheet for 1-2 minutes after baking, then move to a rack to cool.
- If stored in an airtight container, these will stay good for 3-5 days (if they don't disappear before then).
- If you're baking these in cold weather and fridge space is at a premium, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it outside for a couple hours. The dough should firm up nicely.