Halloween is coming, and naturally I had to do something fun with food! Since I am currently obsessed with all things pumpkin spice, my offering is easy: Halloween themed pumpkin spice cookies with a gorgeous cream cheese frosting!
Halloween through the years
We never really used to mark Halloween before we had children. And even when they were younger, we would avoid most of it, as the monsters and gore would often scare them a little. Over the years, as they have grown, they have embraced the fun of Halloween themselves! From decorating our home to dressing up and going trick-or-treating, now it has all become part of the fun!
So, of course, as they have wanted to be more involved in Halloween, my bakes have changed to suit our family. And now, I absolutely love to create cute little Halloween bakes especially for us all to enjoy! I mean, is there anything not to love about turning simple cookies into seasonal treats?
What ingredients do I need to make these Halloween pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting?
- Unsalted butter: as with all my recipes, I like to use unsalted butter so I can control how much salt is in the bake. For best results, use butter at room temperature.
- Brown sugar: for sweetness, but also chewiness, in the eggless pumpkin cookies.
- Caster sugar: for sweetness, and a little crisp, in the pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting.
- Pumpkin puree: the main flavour in these cookies, but also gives moisture and structure to the egg free pumpkin cookies.
- Flour: I use plain (all purpose) flour in my cookies. Other flours will result in different textures, so please be mindful of this if you decide to swap it with another type of flour.
- Baking powder/bicarbonate of soda: the raising agents used in these pumpkin pie cookies recipe.
- Salt: enhances the flavour of the bake, but it will not be so much that you taste it in the cookies.
- Cornflour/corn starch: keeps the cookies really light and tender.
- Spices: I use a few spices in this bake to give the beautiful autumnal spice pumpkin cookies flavour I adore.
- Cream cheese: use full fat cream cheese for the best icing results
- Icing/powdered sugar: to sweeten the cream cheese frosting and help it hold its structure too.
- Maple syrup: for sweetness in the icing, but also a wonderful complementary flavour to the pumpkin spice!
- Edible sugar eyes: to add to the faces for the Frankenstein cookies and the mummy cookies.
What tools do I need to make pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting?
- Baking tray*: to bake the cookies on. Having a few baking trays means you can bake a few trays of cookies at the same time.
- Digital kitchen scales*: my recommended method of measuring ingredients is to weigh them out using grams rather than cups. I do, however, provide cup measures too, if you prefer working with this method.
- Measuring spoons*: for measuring smaller quantities such as tablespoons (tbsp) and teaspoons (tsp). A set of dedicated measuring spoons are far more accurate than using everyday eating spoons, so is a small investment well worth making.
- Mixing bowl*: used to mix up the cookie batter in before baking, as well as to make the icing. I like to use a large bowl to give me plenty of room to work with.
- Electric handheld mixer*: investing in a good electric mixer is a brilliant help with all baking, and will make baking mostly anything a total breeze!
- Sieve*: to remove lumps from the dry ingredients, ensuring it all mixes together evenly.
- Spatula*: for mixing and smoothing the eggless pumpkin cookie batter, plus scraping down the bowl as you mix.
- Cookie scoop*: my preferred method to get even amounts of cookie dough so I can bake evenly sized cookies.
- Cooling rack*: to cool the cookies on once baked, and also useful to lay them on once decorated.
- Black food colour*: for a strong colour, this is my preferred black food colour.
- Orange food colour*: for a strong colour, this is my preferred orange food colour.
- Green food colour*: for a strong colour, this is my preferred green food colour.
- Off set spatula*: to help spread the icing over the cookies smoothly and create the decorative details.
- Piping bags*: used to spread the icing evenly on the cookies and pipe the details onto the pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting.
- Writing nozzle*: a small nozzle, for the black piping details on the cookies. You could do this with just the tiniest snip off the end of the piping bag, but it is much easier to control with a nozzle.
- Flat petal tip nozzle*: used when piping icing for the mummy cookie decoration.
How to make pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting
Cookies are one of my favourite bakes ever, because they actually come together so quickly and easily! The hardest part is the waiting: for the baking itself and for them to firm up after baking. Once you have the cookies made, then the fun with decorating them can really begin! All the different decorations have different mini skills needed, but I will explain them all as we go along.
For the cookies
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper, then set them aside.
Step 2: Cream the butter until soft and spreadable. This can be done by hand, of course, but a handheld mixer will make it much easier and quicker. Add both brown sugar and caster sugar, mixing to combine completely with the butter. Once combined, beat it all together until slightly paler and fluffy.
Step 3: Add in the pumpkin puree and beat the mixture again for a couple of minutes until completely combined. If the mixture looks like it is splitting at this stage, no need to worry, just give it a good mix and it will all be good in the end.
Step 4: Sift in the plain (all purpose) flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), salt and powdered spices. Grate the nutmeg directly into the mixing bowl. Beat all the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until fully combined. Scrape the bowl down, then give the cookie dough one final mix.
Step 5: Using an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, place equal portions of the cookie dough on the prepared baking tray. Make sure to leave space in between the cookies for a little spreading. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look a little puffed into the middle and have a gently set outside but will give a little when gently pressed. Cool for five minutes on the baking tray, to allow the cookies to firm up a little. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
For the Halloween decorating
Step 1: First, soften the butter in a large bowl until really soft and spreadable, then add the cream cheese and beat to combine. Gradually add the sugar and maple syrup, adjusting how much sugar is needed to get the right consistency for the icing. Beat on high for 30 seconds to make it lovely and fluffy. Split into four bowls, keeping less for the black icing than the others. Leave one bowl white, and colour the other two icing bowls pumpkin orange and Frankenstein green.
Step 2: Place the black icing in a piping bag fitted with the writing nozzle and half the white icing in a separate piping bag fitted with the petal nozzle. Now we are ready to decorate!
Step 3: Here is how I decorated each of the cookies:
For the mummy: use a little (black) icing to stick two eyes onto the cookie, then pipe strips of white “bandages” over the cookie, being careful to leave the eyes exposed. Cover as much or as little of the cookie as you wish with bandages.
For Jack Skellington: put a dollop of white icing on the cookie, spread to the edges then smooth the top and around the edges. Pipe Jack’s face using the black icing.
For Frankenstein: place a dollop of green icing on the cookie, spread to the edges then smooth the top. Place two eyes in the middle of the cookie, then use the black icing to pipe a scar over one eye, a wiggly mouth and some hair on the top of the cookie.
For the pumpkin: put a generous dollop of orange icing on the cookie, spread to the edges then smooth the top. Using the curved edge of a knife or spoon, create the texture/ridges of a pumpkin by running the spoon/knife from top to bottom through the icing. I do one down the middle, then two curves on each side of the middle dent. Pipe a jack-o-lantern style face on with black icing, then pop a small amount of green icing at the top for the stem (I just use a toothpick for this bit!).
There are a few factors that can affect your cookies and how they turn out. I will try to answer as many questions as I can, however I may miss something, so please ask away in the comments below!
How do I make my eggless pumpkin spice cookies chewy?
I find I need a mix of white and brown sugar in my cookies to result in a beautiful chew. The white sugar adds to the crispiness of the cookies. But it is the brown sugar that is key for a wonderfully chewy cookie. The molasses in brown sugar helps retain more moisture in the cookies, making them thicker, softer and deliciously chewier.
Can I use oil instead of butter in my eggless pumpkin cookie?
Oil and butter are unfortunately not interchangeable in this cookie recipe, as oil is liquid at room temperature. This means the cookies will spread more when baked, even if they are chilled, so you will not have the same final results.
What if my eggless cookie dough is too soft?
If your cookie dough feels too soft, it is most likely because you did not use a block butter when making the cookies, so they will remain soft and not firm up. I always use block butter, the kind you get in a foil wrapper, in my cookies. Using butter should result in the cookie dough being soft and scoopable once mixed ahead of baking.
How do I know if my cookies are baked?
You will know these soft pumpkin spice cookies are done when the edges are lightly golden and the cracks on top have only just found their way to the middle of the cookie. When this has happened, remove them from the oven, but do not move them off the baking tray. They will continue to bake in the residual heat from within the cookie and from the baking tray. Leaving them on the tray to cool for 10-15 minutes and firm up is super important for beautiful chewy cookies.
Why did my cookies come out flat?
This is very likely down to the ingredients used when making the cookies, especially if you substituted oil for butter in the cookie dough. If you measured up the recipe using cups rather than grams too, there could be inaccuracies with the quantities of ingredients measured out.
Why are my cookies puffy and cakey?
The most likely reason for this is down to the flour in the recipe. Measuring out too much flour (especially if using volume measures rather than weighing out ingredients) can result in drier or cakier cookies.
Why are my cookies so crumbly?
There are a few reasons why baked cookies turn out crumbly, but two likely culprits. If the cookies were baked too long, they could have dried out. It could also be that too much flour was used when making the cookie dough, leading to drier cookies once baked.
How long will these pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting last? And how should I store them?
These Halloween cookies are at their best if enjoyed within a day of decorating, if they last that long! This is important as the cream cheese frosting on top will eventually soak into the pumpkin spice cookies. The result will be soggy cookies… not a very enjoyable experience!
Store these cookies in an airtight container in the fridge, once decorated. The undecorated cookies will keep for 3-4 days in an airtight container at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
Can I freeze these eggless pumpkin cookies?
Yes! You can freeze them both before and after baking, but not once decorated. Keep reading for how to freeze both unbaked and baked cookies.
For unbaked cookies, freeze the cookie dough in individual cookie balls on a baking tray for a few hours, as per the recipe. Once they are firm, transfer the cookie balls into a lidded container suitable for the freezer. These dough balls will keep for up to two months in the freezer.
For baked cookies, cool completely, then wrap individually snugly in cling film and place in a lidded container before freezing. Baked cookies will be good for two months in the freezer.
How do I thaw my pumpkin spice cookies?
If you froze the cookies as unbaked cookie dough, simply remove the frozen cookies and place them on a lined baking tray. Remember to leave about a few inches in between each cookie for them to spread as they bake. Pop them in a hot oven straight from frozen and bake, adding a couple of minutes extra to the baking time according to the recipe.
If you baked the cookies before freezing, you can just defrost them fully at room temperature and enjoy! However, if you want to get that “just baked” texture to the cookies, pop them on a baking tray (no need to spread out too much, you are just heating them up again). Reheat in the oven at 180C/350F for about 3-5 minutes, then pop on a cooling rack for a few minutes before enjoying.
Additional tips for making this recipe for pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting
- Make sure you have prepared all tools and ingredients before you start mixing. Line the baking tray and get the ingredients out ready to use.
- Take time to read through the recipe so you are familiar with what steps come next. Remember: skipping details and instructions or swapping ingredients given could affect the results of your final bake.
- Use butter at room temperature to make life easier when beating.
- If the mixture looks a little curdled after mixing in the pumpkin puree, no need to panic! Once you have added in the dry ingredients and blended it all together, the whole cookie mixture will come together just fine.
- Invest in a good cookie scoop, if you plan to make lots of cookies in the future. The one I like to below is the best by far I have tried, and I have used a lot! Spending a little more on a good quality cookie scoop will make it a pleasure to bake and will last you for a lot longer.
- The cookies will not be completely firm all through when removed from the oven but will continue to cook and firm up as they cool down.
- Make sure the cookies are completely cool before you decorate them. If they are still warm, the cream cheese frosting will melt into a delicious puddle of tasty goo!
- The maple syrup adds a lovely different sweetness to this icing. If you have no maple syrup, just substitute with vanilla or leave out completely.
- Once the cookies have been decorated, they will need to be eaten within a day. The moisture from the icing will gradually soak into the cookies, leaving them softer and soggier. Whilst they will still taste amazing (of course!), the texture of them just will not be as enjoyable.
If you have any questions about this pumpkin spice cookies with cream cheese frosting recipe, please leave me a comment below, I will do my best to help you. And if you do make these cute Halloween cookies, please leave a rating and review below. I would really love to know how you enjoy making them AND it really helps others looking for a recipe too! You could even post a picture on Instagram and tag me when you share it with the world, you already know I would love to see!
More recipes for you to enjoy
If you enjoyed these Halloween cookies, please check out these other delicious recipes on my blog too:
Eggless cinnamon sugar donuts: these donuts are so quick and easy to make, they are ready in under an hour. They are light, moist and wonderfully cakey, and are dredged in the most glorious cinnamon sugar.
Sticky toffee pudding: this cake is light and delicious, especially served with lashings of smooth toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream. This classic British bake is the ultimate comfort food, and it is so easy to make!
Pumpkin spice cookies (eggless): my soft chewy pumpkin spice cookies are made without eggs and are full of the warming flavours and spices of autumn. Who can resist a beautifully spiced cookie that is crisp on the outside and wonderfully moist and chewy in the middle? Not me!
Banoffee crumble: banoffee lovers, this one is for you! So simple to make, and utterly divine, this crumble brings the best of banoffee pie into autumn comfort bakes. Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream for the ultimate cosy weather treat!
Thanks for joining me today, my friends! Enjoy and happy baking! x
Recommended equipment and ingredients I used *
|Digital kitchen scales
|Electric handheld mixer
|Black food colour
|Orange food colour
|Green food colour
|Off set spatula
|Flat petal tip nozzle