Pumpkin cookies with penuche frosting

Easy drop pumpkin cookies

Many moons ago, my sister Mary made these pumpkin cookies with brown sugar frosting. They became one of her specialties for a few years. Mary is a great baker. She got into baking before me, and now that she lives up north, I miss her baking.

These stuck in my memory and I was inspired to make them, as I have been wanting to share more seasonal recipes on my blog and just to make more seasonal recipes for fun myself. I’m not one to go out and buy all the pumpkin things in the fall, but these cookies are certainly an exception. They’re making me rethink my aversion to all things pumpkin spice.

Penuche frosting made with brown sugar

The cookies alone aren’t that sweet, but the frosting is very sweet. The name for the frosting comes from a brown-sugar fudge-like candy. The frosting involves some cooking on the stove, but it’s not as involved as making fudge. You don’t need a candy thermometer, for one thing. You just need a small saucepan to quickly cook the butter and brown sugar in. This makes the brown sugar melt of course, but also gives the frosting a candy taste.

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Pumpkin cookies with penuche frosting
Pumpkin cookies with brown sugar frosting

These easy drop pumpkin cookies are topped with an incredible brown sugar frosting. The recipe comes from Pillsbury, originally in the Pillsbury The Complete Book of Baking, with a few spice additions by me.

Pumpkin cookies with penuche frosting

Yield: 5 dozen cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts

3 tbsp margarine or butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350° F. In large bowl, combine sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 cup margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, vanilla and egg; blend well.

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in nuts.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool 15 minutes or until completely cooled.

Meanwhile, in medium saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons margarine and 1/2 cup brown sugar; bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Cool 10 minutes. Add milk; beat until smooth. Beat in enough powdered sugar for desired spreading consistency. Frost cooled cookies.


  1. Canned pumpkin is sold in grocery stores in two forms: the plain cooked, puree vegetable, and a variation labeled “pumpkin pie filling,” which contains sweeteners and spices. Choose the plain version for these cookies.
  2. For easy scooping of the cookies, use a small ice cream scoop with a release bar.
  3. One easy way to frost these cookies is to leave them on the cookie sheet with parchment paper beneath them on a table or countertop. Spoon the frosting over the cooled cookies. Or, you can dip the tops of the cookies one at a time in the frosting. I find the first method easier and I like the look of it.

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