The Legendary Pumpkin Cookies

pumpkin cookie

Gracious!  (Such a lovely old-fashioned expression.  I've made a rule for myself not to swear on this blog, so I'm getting creative.  In real life, I swear too much).  The exclamation is for all the sweet, curious, and encouraging comments you left on my last post.  Like I've said before, your lives are AT LEAST as interesting as mine. I'm just the one with an audience, the one crazily divulgent enough to let you in on everything.  Coming home to your sweetness makes it all worth it.  Thank you.  Oh, gracious.  Thank you a million times.

Things will unfold slowly here.  I put myself through the sort of methodical process I'd use for a client, post-its all over my retreat room, flip chart paper filled with "Themes I'm Noticing."  You would nod off five words into the explanation, but the short story is this: I figured out a lot of stuff and felt grace, discernment, and hope bestowed on me.  More than grappling with self-esteem and confidence issues (like I thought was going to happen), I heard the universe shouting, "You are loved! You are gifted!  (Now quit belly-aching!)." I've got a lot of work to do still--my "Next Steps" post-its were a little daunting, but it feels good to have direction.

st mary's

St. Mary's has a labyrinth--a sacred path for seekers.  When you get to the center, you're supposed to stand there and wait for "the gift," some awareness or realization to carry on the way out.  I stood there for several minutes, feeling the wind on my face, noticing the gathering clouds, dry leaves rattling across the labyrinth.  As has happened when I've stood there before, what I knew, what I heard, was "All will be well."  Not, "All will be easy," or "You will be in control of what happens next," but "All will be well."  Who doesn't need to hear that?  Now I need to keep believing it.

in the center of the labyrinth

These cookies will help.  Hell (that's a profanity that's not really a profanity, right?), these will help anything, anyone, anytime.  I'm a teensy bit nervous giving you this recipe because I won't have the corner on Pumpkin Cookie Popularity anymore.  Raise your hand if you've had these.  And?  And?  Thank you.  They're divine. They typify Fall for me.  My mom made them growing up, and it's her handwriting that's on my recipe card, given to me when we were first married. That recipe, on stiff rag paper, is all smeared up now, and it will make me feel better if some of you have it so mine isn't the only recorded version.

I made these yesterday when I got home from my retreat--a sort of sweet celebration, with gratitude that the seasons keep coming around and that All Will be Well.  You'll remind me, I hope.

pumpkin cookies

Pumpkin Cookies
Makes 24 cookies.  These cookies are like little cakes--very yielding and soft, not too sweet except for the crunch of icing on top.  I've included a few tips for the icing because I've messed it up so many times.  It's not hard, but just don't make a bunch of substitutions. Did you hear that guys?  It won't turn out!  You want something that spreads easily and then hardens up quickly to form a shiny glaze.  And you can leave the nuts out, of course.  If I'm making them for kids, I've often left them out (though my children like nuts, thank God).

1 c. (2 cubes) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 c. flour
1 ts. baking soda
1 ts. cinnamon
1/2 ts. salt
1/2 ts. pumpkin pie spice (I used 1/2 ts. freshly ground nutmeg instead)
1 c. chopped pecans (+ more for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixer, combine butter, sugar, and pumpkin and mix until combined.  The mixture will look lumpy.  Add egg and mix well.

Sift dry ingredients together, then add with pecans to pumpkin mixture and mix until just combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl as you go.

Drop by tablespoons onto lightly oiled (or parchment-covered) cookie sheets and bake until barely golden, 10-12 minutes. You don't want them squishy in the middle (like chocolate chip cookies) but you don't want to overbake them, either.

Let the cookies cool for a couple minutes, then ice them when they are still warm (not hot, not cold).

For icing:
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
3 Tb. butter
4 ts. milk
1/2 ts. vanilla
1 c. sifted powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, and milk over low heat until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Whisk in powdered sugar until smooth.

With a knife or spreader, spread about a teaspoon of icing over each cookie.  It should run down the sides a little bit, but not be runny. If you want to garnish with chopped pecans, do this right away while the icing is still warm, otherwise the nuts won't stick.  So I usually ice 2 or 3 cookies, sprinkle with nuts, then keep going.

If the icing stiffens up before you've had a chance to ice all the cookies, you can gently rewarm it on the stovetop for a minute or two so it's spreadable again.