COLUMN: Try this yummy, pumpkin twist on snickerdoodles

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By Deanna Godman

Last week, I shared a recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies, which I discovered through a search on Pinterest, an online visual search tool. When I was looking around Pinterest for pumpkin whoopie pie recipes, I found another recipe for cookies made with pumpkin that I decided I had to try: snickerdoodle and pumpkin cream cheese sandwiches. Since I did not use the entire can of pumpkin for the whoopie pies, I had just enough left to make half of a batch of pumpkin cream cheese.

I found that the snickerdoodle recipe mentioned was the same one that my family has used for years, from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book. The pumpkin cream cheese idea came from the blog The Stirring Place, which was linked through Pinterest. The blogger also uses the pumpkin cream cheese as a dip rather than a filling. I adapted some of the directions to make a smoother filling.
I did not have pumpkin pie spice for the cream cheese filling, so I substituted a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Clove and ginger would also be good, but I did not have any on hand. I used powdered sugar because I like the smoothness it lends the frosting. The filling is thinner than regular cream cheese icing. It can be made thicker by using more powdered sugar or more cream cheese. Since the snickerdoodles are coated in a cinnamon-sugar mix, more cream cheese is probably the preferable option.
Creaming the butter and sugar for the snickerdoodles is a vital step. It makes the cookies light instead of dense. With a stand mixer, it takes about five minutes to do this step. It helps if the butter and eggs are room temperature.
I found the cookie dough to be very sticky when it was finished. I have found that refrigerating the dough before baking is a helpful step with many cookie recipes. It makes it easier to scoop out. It is also nice to be able to make a few cookies at a time instead of baking the entire batch at once. These cookies do not stay fresh for very long so it is better to bake only a few at a time if they are not being made for a crowd.
The original recipe called for shortening, but I prefer using butter. Changing the fat used also changes the level of crispness of the final product though. I prefer a softer cookie, so I will lower the temperature and cooking time slightly the next time I bake them. Using half butter and half shortening can also make the cookie softer.
I did not grow up with snickerdoodle cookies, even though the recipe is old-fashioned. I discovered them when my husband decided that he wanted to make cookies that we did not usually have and looked through the Cooky Book for a recipe. We enjoyed them so much that we made them at a get-together with some friends. My husband made the dough ahead of time, so that he could make fresh, hot cookies for dessert while we played games.
There were six of us that night. We usually put nine cookies on a cookie sheet. Everyone liked the cookies so much that we baked several sets of cookies. The last three cookies from each sheet were fought over fiercely. From then on, snickerdoodles were known as “angry cookies” among our friends.

Snickerdoodles with Pumpkin Cream Cheese

1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons sugar

•Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
•Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well.
•Add flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar until incorporated.
•Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl.
•Scoop a spoonful of dough and roll it between your hands to form a ball. Roll the dough ball in the cinnamon mixture to coat it. Place on a cookie sheet, leaving room for the cookies to spread.
•Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
•Makes approximately 36 cookies.


Pumpkin Cream Cheese

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup pumpkin puree
¼  cup of brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese in an electric mixer until smooth. Add other ingredients and beat until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Makes approximately 1 ½ cups.

To prepare sandwich cookies: Remove filling from refrigerator. Spoon or spread about 1 teaspoon of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie. Place another cookie on top of the filling and squeeze together gently. Continue with the rest of the cookies.