Snicker … Butter … Er, Great Cookies!

I grew up enjoying snickerdoodle cookies during the holidays. There were others, of course, but the simplicity of those little gems always appealed to me. This year, with an abundance of pumpkin and squash, I thought I might incorporate some of that into the recipe. If I'd opted for pumpkin, it would have been simple enough to call them Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. However, I opted for the brighter, smoother flesh of the butternut squash and something about Butternut Squash Snickerdoodles didn't do it for me. I finally settled on Butternut Spice Cookies since they are, in fact, a good spice cookie. Whatever you call them, I think you'll approve of the final result.

You can opt for light brown sugar, but I really liked the result I got with dark brown sugar. I also grated my nutmeg by hand and was very happy with the results, but I hardly expect many folks to do the same. Ground nutmeg from a jar will do just fine. I actually hadn't puréed my squash when I started making these cookies, so I put the butter and sugars in a blender and then added the roasted, cubed squash. Then I added the egg and vanilla and gave it one last whirl. It worked like a charm. Now, don't bother with that step if you've already got your squash blended … it's not worth the extra dirty dishes. However, it was a clever step for someone with cubed, roasted squash. The coating on these cookies is really fantastic. Traditional snickerdoodles include a simple cinnamon-sugar coating, but these include ginger and allspice as well. I don't think I'll ever leave them out of the mix again. I really have come to adore the combination and what it does for these fantastic cookies.

Butternut Spice Cookies

For the Dough:
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter; at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butternut squash purée
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Coating:
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • dash allspice

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk to blend and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2 to 3 minutes). Blend in the butternut squash purée. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Cover and chill for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350'F. Line a baking sheet with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Combine the ingredients for the coating in a bowl. Mix well. Scoop dough out into 2 and 1/2 tablespoons scoop and roll into a ball. Coat the dough ball in the sugar-spice mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough; enough to fill the cookie sheet. Make sure to space the dough balls about 2 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a flat, heavy bottomed drinking glass in water and then in the sugar-spice mixture. Use the bottom of the sugared glass to flatten the dough balls slightly. Re-coat the bottom of the glass in the sugar-spice mixture as needed.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes (or until just set and baked through). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Store the cookies in an airtight container.

  • Yields: 3 dozen cookies
  • Preparation Time: 1.5 hours (including chilling time)