I don’t like pie. Perhaps, I just haven’t had a truly good pie… but I mean, I’ve had a lot of pies and they just don’t do it for me. The only ones I really enjoy are sugar pies, which feels like a cheat since they’re just sugar 🙂
Whenever pie-centric holidays come around, I’m always looking for alternative desserts to make that still fit the vibe. For some, a thanksgiving without pumpkin pie is no thanksgiving at all, so to honour that I give you: pumpkin pie sugar cookies! They taste nothing like pumpkin pie but they look like it in a cute, cartoon-y kinda way. Whether these are as replacement for pie, or just an addition to the dessert spread, they are the perfect Thanksgiving treat!
This recipe is my classic sugar cookie recipe, that holds its shape beautifully and actually tastes good. I know that sounds like a silly thing to say, but when you’ve tested as many recipes as me, you’ve seen some things. The sheer number of “sugar cookie” recipes out there that bake up into what tastes like cardboard is just wild. This recipe gives you pretty shapes, with thick and chewy cookies flavoured like butter and vanilla, along with two options for icing – one that’s quick and simple, and one that’s best for detailed decorating.
- First is the method I used all growing up: “easy icing”. This just involves mixing icing sugar and milk to form a paste, and spreading it on the cookies. Easy peasy!
- Alternatively, you can make royal icing. There are plenty of recipes available to make this from scratch… But I do not have one. I use eggless royal icing mix that I get from Bulk Barn (see photo of package below). All you have to do is add water, and whisk! This is my preferred way to decorate, as it is much easier to pipe designs.
For these pumpkin pie cookies, the decor is fairly straightforward. The cookies can be cut using any round item to trace a circle (I used the base of a 5″ cake pan), and then sliced into pie wedges. After baking, they just need a dunk in some orange icing, and then the piping details. For the pie “crust” and “whipped cream”, I used a small amount of buttercream. But you can also use a stiff royal icing, if that’s your preference!
Here’s a short video showing the process:
- ¾ cup butter softened (170g)
- ¾ cup sugar (150g)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste I use Nielsen Massey
- 1 egg
- 2¼ cup flour plus extra, for rolling out dough (313g)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp milk or milk alternative
Easy Icing (Option 1)
- 2-3 cups icing sugar
- 3-5 tbsp milk or milk alternative
Royal Icing (Option 2)
- 1 bag Royal Icing Mix
- 80-100 mL water
- Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 3 minutes, until white and fluffy. This can also be done with a hand mixer.
- Add egg and vanilla bean paste, mixing until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
- Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix slowly (so the flour doesn't puff up) until just combined. Do not overmix!
- Sprinkle countertop with flour. Gather the dough into a ball and place on the counter. Lightly sprinkle the top of the dough ball with flour.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to be 1cm thick (about the same as the width of your pinky).
- Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, and place onto parchment or silicone lined baking sheets. Don't worry about how far apart they are – we are not baking yet!
- Gather remaining dough scraps into a ball, adding in 1 tablespoon of milk. Knead by hand on the countertop until combined, then roll out and repeat!
- Once all of the dough is used up, cover cookie sheets with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (or up to 2 days if fully sealed).
- Preheat oven to 350°. Re-arrange cookies on the cookie sheets so they are a few centimeters apart. Bake for 13-15 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are golden.
- Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating.
Easy Icing (Option 1)
- Whisk icing sugar and milk together to create a paste. Consistency is up to you! Add more icing sugar for a thicker icing, and more milk for a runnier icing. Add food colourings and brush on cookies with a pastry brush. Top with sprinkles if desired. Let cookies sit out for 2 hours to allow icing to dry before packing in air-tight containers.
Royal Icing (Option 2)
- Add bag of royal icing mix to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or to a bowl if using a hand mixer. The package recommends adding 56mL of water, but I find this is far too thick. Start with 80mL, mixing until combined. Check the consistency by pulling the whisk out of the bowl and watching the icing that runs off of it – it should form a line on top of the icing in the bowl, but disappear within a few seconds. Add more water and mix as required.
- Add food colourings and pipe onto cookies from a piping bag. Top with sprinkles if desired. Let cookies sit out for 2 hours to allow icing to dry before packing in air-tight containers.