Pumpkin Swirl Cookies

One of the reasons I got into baking in the first place was because I appreciated that there are some desserts that are really like pieces of art; they’re just as nice to look at as they are to eat. Or at the least, they make you do a double take and wonder to yourself, “Huh. I wonder how that’s done.”

Today’s recipe is one of those desserts. The moment I saw them I was interested, not just because the flavors sounded good to me; they were pretty to look at and I immefiately wanted to know how they were made, and whatever that technique was, try it for myself.

As it turns out, the technique for these cookies really isn’t complicated. What it comes down to, is making two different cookie doughs–a standard sugar cookie dough and a pumpkin flavored one–then sandwiching them together.

After the cookie doughs are sandwiched together, the sandwiched dough gets portioned off into individual layered cookies that get baked, and bam: Business as usual on the outside, party on the inside. Pumpkin swirl cookies.

A few notes/tips I learned from my first go around in making these: they are HUGE, bakery style cookies, roughly the size of your palm. If you would like to have more/make them smaller, then once you have cut the layered 24 squares, you can either stop there and bake them like that (there won’t be as many layers on the inside though). Or, you can divide the portioned 12 dough balls in the last step before baking in half.

Also, chilling the dough (preferably overnight) is a MUST for this recipe. The pumpkin cookie dough is very moist and it will not be fun/cooperative to work with un-chilled.

Be patient on the baking time. Because these are such big cookies, and because there are two different cookie doughs, they take a lot longer to bake than regular cookies.

Lastly, enjoy them!

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Pumpkin Swirl Cookies

Adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

For Sugar Cookie Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla emulsion (I used LorAnn’s Butter Vanilla Emulsion)

For Pumpkin Cookie Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla emulsion (I used LorAnn’s Butter Vanilla Emulsion)

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/4 cup milk

Directions

For Sugar Cookie Dough:

In a medium size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or In another medium bowl and using a handheld mixer with the beater attachments, beat white sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy.

Add the egg and the vanilla, and mix until just combined.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Use a rubber spatula to spread and press the dough into a flat rectangle. Add a second piece of plastic wrap on top, and flatten the rectangle using a rolling pin to approximately 8 by 10 inches. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

For Pumpkin Cookie Dough

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, baking soda and salt with a fork and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or In another medium bowl and using a handheld mixer with the beater attachments, beat white sugar and butter together until pale and fluffy.

Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin and mix until just combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in 3 batches, mixing until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap. Use a rubber spatula to spread and press the dough into a flat rectangle. Add a second piece of plastic wrap on top, and flatten the rectangle using a rolling pin to approximately 8 by 10 inches. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

For Assembly*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap the pumpkin cookie dough and place on a lightly floured piece of parchment. Lightly flour the top and a rolling pin and roll into a larger rectangle about 10 1/2 by 16 inches (see Cook’s Note). Slide the parchment with the dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you repeat the process with the sugar cookie dough. Roll and refrigerate the sugar cookie dough in the same manner.

Use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour from the top of the pumpkin cookie dough. Using the parchment to help you, flip the pumpkin cookie dough onto the sugar cookie dough, lining up the 2 rectangles as closely as possible. Cut the dough in half crosswise with a very sharp knife or pastry cutter so you now have 2 rectangles that are 10 1/2 by 7 inches.

Stack the dough rectangles on top of one another so you now have 4 layers of alternating cookie dough. Cut this stack crosswise into 6 rows, then lengthwise into 4 rows so you end up with a total of 24 squares.

Stack one layered square on top of a second one and, using lightly floured hands, gently press the edges together and round into a domed ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining squares, evenly spacing 6 dough balls on each lined baking sheet.   

Use your palms to slightly flatten the balls. Sprinkle the tops with granulated sugar.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the cookies are puffed in the center and golden brown around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on the pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet to cool completely.

For glaze: combine confectioners sugar and pumpkin spice together in a small bowl. Add milk in tablespoon increments until it’s reached the desired consistency. (You may not need to use it all). Use a fork to drizzle it over the cookies and allow to set, about 20 minutes.

*For a video depiction of cookie assembly, see here.

*The pumpkin dough will be much softer than the sugar cookie dough so you will have to use more flour when rolling out to prevent sticking. Work quickly; if the dough gets too soft or warm, place the whole piece of parchment on a sheet pan and place in the freezer for a few minutes.

Note: no one oven is the same, & different baking sheets bake cookies differently. Keeping this in mind, I will ALWAYS test bake one cookie before baking entire sheets of the whole batch, just to get a good idea of how long they should be in the oven and if I need to adjust the way I’ve cut, rolled them out, etc. I highly recommend that you do the same.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #455, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Apple Cider Cookie Bars

It’s my favorite time of year: Autumn.

The weather isn’t too hot, but still isn’t too cold. You can break out the sweaters and boots without needing to break out the heavy winter coats. Depending on where you live, the trees begin to change color.

And then, of course, there’s the food of it all.

Much like peaches and strawberries with summer, apple cider is one of those ingredients that are very ‘seasonal’ for my tastebuds. I get the hankering to have it at very specific times of year. Late September-early October is the perfect sweet spot to where I will take apple cider whenever I can get it, in as many different ways as I can get it.

We all know apple cider is delicious enough on its own, but did you know it’s a pretty great ingredient to bake with as well? It’s true. I’ve put it to some delicious uses several times before on the blog, first with donuts (baked and fried), then another time with pound cake.

Today, I’m back to experimenting with cider but with something a little different.

Cookie bars have become one of my favorite desserts over the past few years. They’re simple to make, and they also deliver on the most important factor for me when it comes to successful desserts, outside of flavor: the texture.

With a cookie bar I get the full bodied, chewy texture I like, with a smooth filling on top to balance it all out. As with a lot of the desserts on this blog, these started with a Blank Canvas base recipe, that I customized to my preferences. The cookie base is a standard Pâte Sablée Cookie Crust that I’ve used before with other cookie bar recipes, but this time added some spices to give it more of an ‘autumn-y’ flavor. The filling is an apple cider ‘quick custard’ where you let the oven do the work rather than cooking it over the stove with traditional custard recipes.

You guys, I was so pleased with how these turned out. The pâte sablée is a tasty enough cookie on its own, but adding the apple cider custard was the perfect addition of flavor and texture. This is one is already set to become one of my favorite autumn desserts, and should you try it, I think it’ll become one of yours too.

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Apple Cider Cookie Bars

Recipe Adapted from BHG & a previous recipe on Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

For Pâte Sablée Cookie Crust

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice

For Cider Custard Filling*

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

For Boiled Cider Syrup:

In a large saucepan bring cider to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 1 to 2 hours (depends on pot size), uncovered, until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup. Let cool completely.

*Note: You can buy pre-boiled cider syrup. You’ll need 1/2 cup total for this recipe.

For Cookie Crust:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, spices, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld one with the beater attachments), beat butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg and egg yolks, beating until combined. Beat in vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract.

With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until combined.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan; lightly spray with cooking spray.


Press Pâte Sablée cookie crust into bottom of prepared pan. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a fork, prick the dough about every 1 inch.


Bake until light golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together boiled cider syrup, milk, and 3/4 cup cream. In a medium bowl whisk together brown sugar, flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and the salt. Add cider mixture. Stir until combined.

Increased oven temp to 375 degrees F. Pour cider custard onto cookie crust.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until custard appears set at edges but is still slightly jiggly in center. Let cool completely.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #453.