Thursday, November 10, 2011


After 34 years of total indifference (bordering on mild hostility) to the wave of pumpkin-flavored foodstuffs that sweeps the nation each autumn, I’m suddenly starting to catch on. It started with the pumpkin ice cream last year. I made it again this year, then caught myself jonesing for something else along the same lines. When I spotted this recipe at Annie’s Eats, in which a bit of pumpkin and extra spice is added to the traditional snickerdoodle formula, it seemed a good way to herald fall—and the arrival of My!New!Oven!—without going overboard into full-blown pumpkin mania. And as I’d hoped, the cookies were a perfect pumpkiny twist on an existing fave; the pumpkin adds a tinge of orange color and a tender, cakey texture (don’t expect the usual snickerdoodle crispness here), but its flavor remains subtle.

I replaced nutmeg with cardamom in the dough, because I flippin’ adore cardamom and it never seems to get fair play in baked goods outside of Scandinavia. In general, every time I see cinnamon in a recipe, I throw in a little cardamom too. I may not be a Pumpkin Person yet, but I’m officially Cardamom Crazy! I then rejiggered the coating mixture to approximate full-blown pumpkin pie spice, dialing down the cinnamon a bit to give cardamom a supporting role (natch), scaling back the ginger, and adding nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. I loved the results and will certainly make these again next October. In the meantime, I have half a can of pumpkin puree still to use up, so watch this space for more grudgingly trendy pumpkin recipes in the near future.

3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅛ teaspoon allspice

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon cardamom. Whisk to blend and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and 1 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Blend in the pumpkin puree. Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

4. Combine the sugar and spices for the coating in a bowl and mix to blend. Scoop up 1 heaping tablespoon of the dough and roll into a ball. Coat the dough ball in the sugar-spice mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough to fill the sheets, spacing the dough balls 2 to 3 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a flat, heavy-bottomed drinking glass in water, then in the sugar-spice mixture, and use the bottom to flatten the dough balls slightly. Recoat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed.

5. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just set and baked through. Let cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Yields: 3 to 4 dozen cookies
Time: 2 hours
Leftover potential: Good; cookies will dry out after three or four days at room temperature, but they freeze fairly well.

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