Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

Packing up our kitchen in St. Louis was no easy feat; not only had I accumulated various gadgets, tools and dishes but I had also created quite a collection of "specialty" food items.  By speciality I don't necessarily mean fancy or exotic, but rather items that were for occasional use.  For example, we didn't eat lemon curd or meringue powder on a daily basis but every once in a while I was inspired to make macarons or royal icing-decorated sugar cookies.  So, while packing to move to an apartment that would have considerably less cabinent space I had to make some important decisions on which items to pack and which to throw out.  It was heartbreaking.  (Don't even get me started on all the sauces, jellies, and other refrigerator items that I had to part with based simply on the fact that there was no car space to sacrifice for a cooler full of hoisin sauce and pomegranate jelly.)
Two of the pantry items that moved to Boston with us were a can of pumpkin puree and a packet of Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix.  How did these make the cut?  Pumpkin is always good to have around in the fall and the sugar cookie mix was going to expire soon, so I knew that would motivate me to use it.  And motivated I was...or would have been if I hadn't gotten on a "healthy eating" kick.  So that I wouldn't break my diet I put off making the cookies for a while (you see, I have no willpower to avoid yummy foods so I try to just not keep them around).  However, I knew that the mix would expire so I started to think of ways to make the cookies a little less unhealthy.  I remembered when I was younger that my mom would use applesauce in place of oil when baking brownies so I considered this option.  Then I had a better idea - use that can of pumpkin as a fat replacement and to bring a new flavor to the cookies!  So, that's what I did.
All the makings of an easy pumpkin sugar cookie

The recipe below is a slight tweak on Betty's normal preparation directions and yields pumpkin-y, spiced sugar cookies.  I replaced half of the called-for butter with pumpkin puree to bring down the fat and calorie content of the cookies.  In baking, butter (or other fat) is important to texture so I didn't want to remove all of the fat; this was probably a good choice because replacing even just half the butter content resulted in cookies with a cake/biscuit-like texture.  No big deal though, the flavor was still good!

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
1 17.5oz package of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 stick of butter, room temp
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
Sugar, for coating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet by greasing or lining with parchment paper/silicone mat.  Place some granulated sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cookie mix and pumpkin pie spice.  Add butter, pumpkin puree and egg; stir with a rubber spatula until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. 

Drop dough by rounded teaspoon into bowl of granulated sugar, coat with sugar and place on baking sheet.  (Flattening the dough into discs is recommended, but not necessary).  Because of the decreased butter content, cookies will not spread much during baking; dough can be placed about 1 inch apart on baking sheet.

Cinnamon-sugar never hurt anything!

Bake for 7-11 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.  I hope you enjoy!

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