Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Maple Frosting

There’s a sweet little cafe in downtown San Carlos that serves the most amazing treats. My instincts tell me that originally it started out as a cupcake shop, but has slowly transitioned to a cafe that serves savory and sweet edibles, including cupcakes. The proprietor was smart to name her shop something broad enough to ride the cupcake trend without pigeonholing her brand and ultimately limiting the success of her shop.

Last Saturday I popped in with my daughter on a mission to bring home their amazing maple-glazed oat scones, but also walked out with a pumpkin spice brown sugar cookie. Divine. Soft and cake-like with a swirl of vanilla-spiked brown sugar frosting. Here’s my version.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Maple Frosting

These are best served the same day, but can be stored for up to three days in an airtight container. Pumpkin spice consists of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. Because I’m crazy for spices, I like to mix my own. If you have this blend on hand, feel free to substitute 2 tablespoons of it in place of the individual spices in the recipe below.

Cookies:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup pumpkin puree

Frosting:

1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature

3 tbsp. maple syrup

Cinnamon for dusting

1. In a bowl, sift together first seven ingredients; set aside. In another mixing bowl, beat butter using a hand-held mixer or standing mixer until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add sugars and beat again for another minute. Add egg and beat, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated. On low speed, add vanilla and pumpkin puree and combine. Add flour-spice mixture and mix until batter forms, about one more minute.

2. Refrigerate batter for at least 15 minutes. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate for up to half a day.

3. Preheat oven to 350° and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Remove batter from refrigerator and, using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter onto lined cookie sheet. Each sheet should fit 12 cookies. Dip fingers in water and smooth the tops of each cookie to flatten so that each cookie measures about 1/4″ x 2 1/2″.

4. Bake cookies, one sheet pan at a time in the center of the oven, for 15 minutes. Remove cookies from pan and place on wire rack to cool.

5. To prepare frosting, sift sugar into a mixing bowl to remove any lumps. Add butter and whip on high; slowly add syrup. Whip until frosting is fluffy and smooth, about 2 minutes.

6. When cookies are cool, spread frosting on cookies  and dust lightly with cinnamon.

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Radicchio and Scamorza Focaccia

Successful cooking requires balance. This focaccia recipe is a good example of how pairing contrasting flavors results in a balanced dish. The bitterness of the radicchio is just the right amount to counter the richness of the smoky scamorza. Rosemary works as the bridge that brings the two flavors together.

Radicchio and Scamorza Focaccia

Serve as an appetizer, cut into 2-inch strips, or cut into larger pieces and serve as a light lunch with a salad or soup. Focaccia is more about the “bread” than it is about the toppings. Don’t worry about toppings not blanketing the dough.

2 cups very warm tap water

1 package dry active yeast

1 tsp. sugar

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. kosher salt

4 Tbsp. olive oil (additional drizzle here and there)

3 cups finely sliced radicchio

2 Tbsp. chopped rosemary

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

3 cups grated scramorza (smoked mozzarella) cheese

1. Fill standing mixer bowl with water; sprinkle yeast and sugar, stir to dissolve, and allow to sit for two minutes.

2. Add flour, salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil to mixer bowl and mix with hook attachment until dough is thoroughly worked, about 5 minutes. If dough is too sticky, add additional flour, one tablespoon at a time. Dough should be tacky rather than sticky. Remove hook and cover bowl with saran wrap and cover with a dish towel. Allow dough to rise at room temperature until double in size, about 2 hours.

3. Drizzle olive oil on a cookie sheet and spread with a pastry brush so that the bottom and sides of pan are coated. Remove dough from mixing bowl and hand stretch dough so that it fits the pan. (Even if it doesn’t reach all sides of the pan, as it rises a second time, revisit the dough and stretch so that it covers all corners.) Cover with dish towel and allow to rise, about another hour.

4. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large skillet and place skillet over medium-high heat. Add radicchio and rosemary to pan and saute quickly to wilt the radicchio, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and red pepper flakes; set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 400°. After the second rise, create small wells in dough by pressing down on dough with fingers. Brush dough with additional olive oil and evenly scatter radicchio mixture on top. Evenly sprinkle cheese on top of radicchio and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Slice and serve immediately or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.