Gingerbread cookies are often disappointing because they tend to look better than they taste, especially those oh-so-cute gingerbread men. I prefer to make my own for this very reason, and happily, homemade gingerbread men taste at least as good as they look – if not better! This recipe for Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies is a bit of a twist on classic gingerbread cookies. The soft spicy cookies have a great flavor and texture to them, and include both molasses and pumpkin puree. They hold their shape quite well when baking, and are perfect for gingerbread men and most other cutout cookies – especially holiday cookies!
I wanted to highlight the pumpkin flavor in these cookies, so I used the same blend of spices that I use to make pumpkin pie spice: cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. These same spices often show up in gingerbread, but they’re a bit lighter here than in many gingerbreads. You still get that nice molasses flavor in the finished cookie in addition to the pumpkin and spice flavors. The dough comes together easily and can be made a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Keep your work surface lightly floured when you go to roll out the dough so that the cookies will not stick as you cut them out (although a metal spatula will get off even sticky cookies cleanly), and lightly flour your cookie cutters to help them make clean cuts. This dough can be rolled out 2 or even 3 times.
These cookies keep very well when stored in an airtight container, so you easily make and decorate them when you have time and serve them several days later. They also ship well, again in an airtight container. The cookies are soft and chewy to begin with, and remain nice and chewy without getting hard even after being stored.
Pumpkin Gingerbread Cookies
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, very soft
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in molasses, pumpkin puree, egg, spices and vanilla extract until well blended. With the mixer on low speed or by hand, gradually add in the flour mixture, mixing until no flour remains.
Divide dough into two pieces. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll out to no more than 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface and use a floured cookie cutter to make desired shapes. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet. Reroll reaming dough, chilling for a few minutes if it becomes too warm to handle easily. Repeat with second piece of dough. Dough can be rolled out two to three times.
Bake for 7-9 minutes at 375F, until the edges are slightly firm to the touch but cookies are not browned (The bottom of the cookies will be light brown). If your cookies are exceptionally large or small, the baking time may need to be adjusted.
Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
Makes 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on cookie cutter size.
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp milk or water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a small bowl combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Whisk until very smooth. Icing should be thick and pourable, but not runny (You can always add a bit of extra sugar to thicken it if you add too much). Scrape into piping bag with a fine tip or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off and pipe onto cooled cookies. Allow to set for at least 30 minutes, until firm, before storing cookies in an airtight container.