Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve used it to make some pumpkin butter, pumpkin popsicles, and a quick weeknight pasta.
Welcome back to our new Cooking with Kids series, where Alex is the true star, and these pumpkin cookies are the runner up. If you haven’t seen our first Cooking with Kids post, it’s worth a glance, especially if you’re just starting out on this whole kids-in-the-kitchen adventure. Today’s post will not go into as much detail about how to make the cooking fun for your little one, instead, I’m just putting all of our past tips into practice and sharing a few ideas related specifically to this recipe and baking cookies in general. As a point of reference for any moms out there, Alex helped with these cookies when he was 29 months old (just shy of 2 1/2 years).
This is a recipe that I first saw on Design Mom. I made a batch for a party last fall, and predicted then that they would become a fall favorite. This year’s batch turned out just as delicious and well-received by everyone in the house, that they’ve retained their position as “favorite fall cookie”. The cookies are delicious little fluffy cakes of pumpkin, and if kept in an airtight container, they will stay moist for at least two weeks (surprisingly a few cookies made it that long in our house!). The original recipe includes instructions for a glaze, I didn’t make it this year, opting for a plain cookie, but made it last year and loved it. I’ll include it below in case you’re craving the extra touch of sweetness.
Keep the Younger Siblings Happy (and Safe)
As you can see, today Luc joined us in the kitchen. He was present for the lemon bread baking too, but at that point (a few months ago) he was happy to hang out in his carrier. Now he’s a lot more alert, curious, and fidgety, so if he’s not napping, he’s often much happier out of the carrier than in.
I want Alex and I to have a great time when we’re working in the kitchen together. This can’t happen if my attention is split between him and Luc. Sometimes Luc is napping, but if he isn’t, then I like to set him up with some toys on the kitchen floor. That way he can be in on the action, and I’ll know exactly what he’s up to, but if he’s having fun, then he won’t be a distraction to the quality Alex/momma time.
I mentioned keeping him safe, because even though he’s barely 6 months old, he’s already able to flip himself out of the Bumbo. Unfortunately, I’ve heard stories about other kiddos falling from counters and tables while in the Bumbo. So while I would love to have him sitting on the counter watching us work, I know that I can’t turn my back for a moment without worrying about him.
Before I know it, Luc will be ready to help us cook, and then our posts will focus on how to keep two kiddos happy and engaged at the same time!
Don’t Wait for the Butter to Warm!
I feel like every cookie recipe begins with a warm stick of butter. That can be such a drag when you want to make cookies on a whim, because no one wants to wait for the butter to warm, and it may leave you having to turn down requests to bake. As this section’s heading suggests, I don’t warm the butter! I don’t even cheat and warm it in the microwave. Instead, I just cut up the cold butter, put it in the electric mixer and mix it on high for a minute or two before continuing with the rest of the recipe. I’ve been doing it this way for the past two years and have not had a problem yet!
Interacting with the Raw Ingredients
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I like to let Alex interact with as many of the raw ingredients as possible. I think that generally it’s a good idea to let him see/taste/smell what goes into making different recipes, that way he’s learning about the basic building blocks of cooking and baking, as well as (hopefully) developing a curiosity for the science of baking. How is it possible that we mix a little bit of this and a little bit of that, add heat and magically turn the ingredients into cookies? Questions like that can be great jumping off points for future experiments.
Since this recipe doesn’t use a whole can of pumpkin, before I even scooped any out for the recipe, I let Alex jump right into the can with his spoon. He was excited to take a few bites before moving on to the next step.
I was also sure to let him smell the cinnamon and fresh nutmeg called for in today’s recipe. Alex doesn’t have the dexterity to operate the nutmeg grinder by himself yet, but this is a great task to complete with teamwork : I hold the base of the grinder while he turns the crank.
Recognize When Kids Can’t Help
While I would love to have Alex help form the individual cookies, I know he isn’t there yet. He would end up eating most of the dough, and whatever he didn’t eat would be stuck to his fingers, in his hair, and who knows where else. For now, he helps with all of the measuring and mixing, and then I finish the cookies while he naps, with the promise that he’s going to wake up to a cookie and milk treat! A promise that will make any two year old happy.
Currently those are our cookie-baking tricks. Do you bake with your kiddos? If you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share, we would love to hear about them in the comments. In the meantime, the pumpkin cookie recipe is reprinted below, and we strongly suggest you bake a batch even if you don’t have a kid, just don’t eat them all yourself ;-).
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/3 cup sugar (original recipe calls for 1 1/2)
- 1 cup pumpkin
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 Tbsp milk
- 1 Tbsp melted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350F. Grease cookie sheets or use silicon sheets (my preferred method).
- Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until well blended. Beat in the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture.
- Drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the edges are firm (I like to bake these on the lighter side to make sure they don't turn out too dry). Cool on the baking sheet for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Combine the glaze ingredients and whisk until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies.