Here we are, deep in October and well on our way to Halloween, so I have set aside all the other holiday cookie recipes in The Joy of Cookies and baked something more appropriate to the season. I was compelled to bake these, in part, because two of the four sugar pumpkins we grew this year were ready to cut open, have their innards scooped out, and flesh baked for puréeing and freezing. I did all that (including saving and drying some of the seeds for next year’s garden), then set aside two cups of the cooked bright orange pulpy stuff for these cookies. The recipe calls for a 16- ounce can of pumpkin, but really. When you have the fresh-from-the-garden stuff at hand, I say go for it!
Seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and fresh orange zest, the pumpkin sings in these cookies. Sharon Tyler Herbst suggests decorating the tops of the drop cookies with an orange glaze, and using nuts, currants and raisins arranged to form Jack O’Lantern faces, but I decided to take another option and put the nuts and raisins in the cookies instead. I did brush each cookie with a liberal amount of orange glaze after baking them.
I will be frank with you. The orange glaze nearly ruins the cookies. They may as well be called Sweet Orange Halloween cookies. The frosting’s zest and juice of a large orange overwhelms the little bit of vanilla in the glaze and completely overpowers the flavor of the pumpkin and spices. Add to that, the powdered sugar makes them overly sweet and they become edible but not very enjoyable.
And to think a perfectly beautiful sugar pumpkin was sacrificed for these. Oh well. There is plenty of pumpkin left over for pies and breads, and cookies. Without orange glaze.