Last weekend, we had some pretty perfect fall weather, so we decided to take a field trip off to DeMeritt Hill Farm for some apple and pumpkin picking. DeMeritt Hill Farm is so quintessentially New England — it looks like something out of a movie set. Gorgeous rolling hills of fruit trees, a horse barn, hay rides, pumpkin patch, and an onsite bakery, so the smell of fresh cider donuts wafted across the fields, beckoning us back to the farm stand for a sweet treat. (Yes, we partook.) Elsa loved the apple and pumpkin picking, but she was pretty excited that she got her first taste of a donut. (Feeding the goats and chickens were a close contender for best part of the trip. DeMerritt Hill is a toddler’s heaven.)
We arrived home with bags of apples, a gallon of cider, and a few carefully chosen pumpkins. For the most part, we’ve been munching the apples, enjoying the cider hot, and making plans for pumpkin carving. But our loot from the farm kicked off an idea for a sweet treat, using an old recipe and a brand new experiment in frosting.
I somehow made it all the way to seventh grade before ever encountering a pumpkin cookie. I spent one year back then living in Hopewell Junction, NY, and while there, befriended a girl named Diana. We lost touch not long after I moved the following year, but I’ll eternally be in her debt because of the day she shared the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie her mom had made and put in her lunch box. It was delicious — spicy and moist, chewy with just the right crunch at the edges. I begged for the recipe and Diana obliged. I’ve kept that handwritten recipe for nearly twenty years now (ouch) and make the cookies almost every fall.
This year, I wanted to change things up a bit and omit the chocolate chips. The cookies are actually not all that sweet, so without the chocolate, I would either need to increase the sugar, or add frosting. Guess which I chose? Yeah, frosting wins every time.
Our trip to the orchard sparked an idea: pairing pumpkin cookies with mulled cider. That led to — TA-DA — mulled cider cream cheese frosting. I used the cider we bought at the farm and added all of the spices you’d use to make mulled cider. It took some playing to get the right consistency, and next time I might try making mulled cider and then simmering it down to a syrup for a more concentrated taste, but for a first try, these sweet fall treats are pretty tasty.
Diana’s Pumpkin Cookies
4 cups unbleached flour
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 16 oz. can solid packed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- 2. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl, set aside.
- 3. Add the egg and vanilla, mix well.
- 4. Alternate adding the pumpkin and dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
- 5. Drop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. (I also used my Silpat mat and it worked perfectly.)
- 6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cookies are firm and golden brown at edges.
- 7. Let cookies rest on pan for 10 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.
- 8. Cream the butter and then add the sugars, beating until light and fluffy.
Mulled Cider Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 oz.) blocks of cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
5 tablespoons apple cider
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 1. Cream the butter and cream cheese together.
- 2. Add the apple cider, orange zest, and lemon juice, mix well.
- 3. Add cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg and mix well, scraping down the sides.
- 4. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until you reach the right consistency. (I wanted spreadable, but not goopy.) If you want to pipe the frosting on to the cookies, add extra powdered sugar, spoon frosting into a pastry bag or ziploc bag, and refrigerate to chill.
- 5. Once cookies are frosted, sprinkle cookies with a dash of cinnamon sugar to garnish.
So there you have it. Fall cookies inspired by a family apple orchard excursion. What types of fall foods do you love most? Do you have a recipe story like mine?
Most importantly, if anyone knows a Diana who was a seventh grader at Van Wyck Junior High School in 1993, let her know I’m giving her mom’s recipe a shout out. Gotta give credit where it’s due and I owe her some cookies.