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Thursday, October 13, 2016

October 13: Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies

I'm going to a painting event tonight and I'm bringing dessert (naturally). When it comes to events where one of your hands is occupied holding a paintbrush, having an easy-to-grab, bite-sized dessert option is a must. Ergo, these sugar cookie pumpkin pies. (And these eyeballs, which I'm also bringing--but it's a fresh batch and I made them with Peanut Butter Oreos instead of regular and they are also fab. Some of these delightful apple cookies would also fit the bill, but, alas, there's none left because they've been gobbled up.)

Anyhoosits, this is a Betty Crocker recipe, to which I made a few small tweaks (including, among other things, making my own frosting instead of using a pre-made one since those are GROSS). Overall, they weren't terribly difficult to whip up, though, like all things being made into individual portions, more labor-intensive than making a single pie or some such. Alas, such is the nature of small bites.

Here's how these came together for me.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies

Yield: 48 bites, plus 9 plain sugar cookies (the original recipe said it would make only 36 and said nothing about leftover cookie dough)


For Cookie Cups:

1 bag (1 lb, 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
1 stick butter
1 egg

For Pumpkin Pie Filling:

1/2 cup canned pumpkin
4 oz brick cream cheese, softened (generally, one uses full-fat cream cheese in these recipes, but I decided to see if I could get away with using the reduced fat Neufchatel cream cheese I had on hand--spoiler alert: yes, I could!)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

For Cream Cheese Frosting: (this makes about 1-1.5 cups of frosting which is about a cup more than you need. Feel free to substitute 1/2 cup of store-bought cream cheese frosting)

4 oz brick cream cheese, softened (again, when it comes to making a good quality, fluffy, creamy frosting, your best bet is full-fat cream cheese. But I decided to stay with my experimentation and use the other half of my Neufchatel brick to make my
1 Tablespoon butter (to make up for some of the fat I was missing in the cream cheese, and also because the best buttercream frostings are, of course, made with butter!)
2 Tablespoons light cream (better would be heavy cream--again, because of the fat--which I did have on hand. But my container wasn't open and I was really going all-in on seeing if I could make this frosting without using the max load of fat--spoiler alert: for this use, yes, I could!) 
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.  Spray mini-cupcake pans with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Prepare sugar cookie dough according to package directions.
*The original recipe said to follow directions on the back of the bag to prepare the cookies. However, it didn't specify whether we should follow the directions for the "drop cookies" or for "roll-out cookies." I ended up choosing the drop cookie directions (since they didn't involve adding extra flour), which I then misread because I melted the butter instead of just softening it. But you know what? It didn't matter. They still worked. Luckily.

3. Scoop out 1 teaspoon of dough and drop it into each cavity in your cupcake/muffin pan. I actually used a teaspoon measure for this so that they were uniform (and because the original recipe said to use rounded teaspoons-full which is about a 1/4" ball.) Then go back and gently press them into the cups and slightly up the sides. Set aside.

 Ball on the right; pressed in on the left

4. Prepare the pumpkin filling.
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for the pie filling. Whisk briskly until smooth and creamy.

5. The original recipe calls for dropping rounded teaspoons-full of pie filling into each cookie cup. I tried doing it that way and it was a pain and sort of messy. Therefore, I reverted to my fave baggie-piping method. (I was going to write it out here, but I decided to do a quick youtube search to see if anyone did a how-to video and--eureka--they did! She shows you how to fill a standard-weight bag with icing or other filling. Pro-tip: use a freezer bag because they're thicker and less likely to burst when you're squeezing. Trust me; I know from experience.) You'll need only a small cut at the tip. Then squeeze a teaspoon of filling into each cup.

6. Bake for 8-12 minutes, until edges of cookie start to turn golden brown and the filling looks set. (Mine took the full 12 minutes.)

7. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.

8. While they cool, make the icing. Combine the butter, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a bowl and use a hand mixer to combine until creamy. Then add the vanilla and cream and mix again (if it's too wet, add more sugar, if it's too dense, you can thin it out with more cream.) Turn the mixer to high and beat it until it's fluffy and soft.

9. Employing the same baggie-piping method you used in Step 5, scoop 1/2 cup of the icing into the baggie, snip the tip, and squeeze dollops of frosting on top of the cooled cups. Optional step: sprinkle additional cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice on top of the frosting. (I skipped that step.)

Store cookie pies in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

These are delicious little bites of fun. Perfect for snacking on whilst painting.

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