Pumpkin cookies with maple glaze epitomize fall flavors

Baking is one of my passions, and I am always looking for an excuse to don my apron, heat up my oven and put my mixer to work. And when that excuse comes in the form of helping others, it’s a win-win in my book.

My friend, Sandra (nee Barker) Jaeger, recently shared a request on Facebook seeking baked goods for a fundraising event later this month. The benefit will be held on Thursday, Oct. 26 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in West Fargo, in support of Michelle Donarski, a local woman who was diagnosed earlier this year with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS. The money raised will help Michelle and her family pay for medical expenses and equipment not covered by insurance.

I’ve never met Michelle but since signing on to bake, I’ve learned that she is a wife to Mark, mother of Cloe and Brady, and a passionate home cook who is always there to help out others in need. I look forward to meeting her and her family at the event.

I plan to bring several goodies for the bake sale, including some old favorites featured in previous columns like Candy Corn Scones, Monster Cookies and Hot Cocoa Mix with Homemade Marshmallows. I’m also using this event as an opportunity to explore new recipes, and at the top of my list is my sister-in-law Sarah’s fabulous Pumpkin Cookies.

Sarah has been making these cookies for her family, and mine, for several years and each fall we await their arrival, eagerly asking her once October hits, “Is it pumpkin cookie time, yet?” I’d never considered myself a fan of pumpkin cookies, but these are so delicious that I’ve been known to sneak a second, and even a third when no one’s looking.

These cookies are easy to make and filled with autumn flavors, including pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Be sure to use pure pumpkin puree and not the pumpkin pie filling – they’re often right next to each other in the grocery aisle and it’s easy to buy the wrong one by mistake.

When making the batter, take time to properly cream the butter and sugar together. This means mixing the butter and sugar together on medium speed for at least three to five minutes, until smooth and fluffy. This technique creates the lovely little air bubbles that make these cookies so wonderfully soft and moist, and it’s is worth the extra effort.

Sarah makes her pumpkin cookies with a traditional vanilla glaze, but for this occasion I’ve decided to showcase fall flavors so I’ve opted for a rich maple glaze, instead. This might be one my best culinary decisions, ever. The glaze consists of pure maple syrup, butter, cream or milk, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt, and it is out-of-this-world delicious.