While searching for a lawyer job, I’ve been making some money by subbing as an associate teacher. It’s a pretty fantastic way to pass the time, let me tell you. Kids are hilarious, and we get to do awesome stuff, like take field trips to the grocery store and learn about explorers, tectonic plates, and good character.
Last week I was working in a first grade classroom where one of the students was having a birthday, so we got treats in the afternoon. The treats were those round, frosted sugar cookies you can buy in the front of pretty much every grocery store, Target, Walmart, etc. There is no love in those cookies, my friends–just sugar, flour, food coloring, and probably some partially hydrogenated lard. You can’t blame the birthday girl or her parents, though, because home-baked treats are a no-no in most schools today. I assume this is because of food allergies, which makes sense, but the rule still bums me out because it pretty much crushes one of my childhood dreams.
You see, when I was but a young lass at Jefferson Elementary School (pictured above with my bro, wearing my MC Hammer pants), we had something called a “Homeroom Mother”. This was a parent of one of the children in your class who was responsible for bringing treats, juice boxes, and favors for the various class parties. (There were no Homeroom Fathers, but seven-year-old Darcy wasn’t concerned because she hadn’t yet been told about the evils of patriarchy.) For context, please see this photo of one of my mom’s class Halloween parties (she was a first grade teacher):
Doesn’t that look like a can’t-miss party? I knew, deep in my heart, that I would one day be a Homeroom Mother. It was clearly the part I was born to play, and I would have thrown some rad class parties, let me tell you. I would have dazzled the classmates of my hypothetical future children with meticulously decorated baked goods. But ALAS! It can never be. Score one for the store-bought sugar cookies.
But let’s pretend, just for today, that I was in charge of treats for a Halloween/fall party. I would make these…..
…and you should too, because they’re light, pillowy, pumpkin-y, and deeeee-licious. They look like cookies, but the texture is much more like cake. The frosting has a nice little hint of cinnamon. And of course there are sprinkles, because I conducted a focus group of sorts with my group of kiddos while we ate our birthday treats last week, and we all agreed that sprinkles are AWESOME.
Happy baking, and happy Monday!
Pumpkin Cookies (makes 18-20)
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 c. canned pumpkin (Make sure it’s just plain pumpkin, NOT the pumpkin pie filling. I make that mistake at the grocery store about once every year.)
- 1/2 c. canola (or vegetable) oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tbsp cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1 c. confectioners sugar
Preheat the oven to 325 and grease your cookie sheets (I used parchment paper in the picture below, but later found that just greasing the cookie sheet worked better). Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for about 30 seconds, add the vanilla, oil, and pumpkin puree, and mix until completely combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, mix until just combined, and then drop a bit less than 1/4 cup of the dough onto the cookie sheet for each cookie. Flatten each one out a bit with the back of a spoon, so they look like this:
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. While the cookies cool, mix the frosting ingredients until there are no lumps. (If you’re using an electric mixer, start on low speed to avoid a giant cloud of confectioners sugar.) When the cookies are completely cool, frost them and add sprinkles or chopped pecans.