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How To Make Bouchon's Pumpkin Shortbread Halloween Cookies

Photo courtesy of Bouchon Bakery
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If you're like us, you probably like to avoid the mayhem of the holidays. You host friends at your place instead of braving the crowds—especially on holidays like Halloween—where the circus is in full swing (as are the DUI checkpoints).

Any All Hallows' Eve party should be stocked with plenty of sweet treats, and that doesn't just mean candy for trick-or-treaters. Thankfully, the fantastic folks over at Bouchon Bakery have shared a simple pumpkin shortbread recipe that'll keep your sweet tooth at bay. Plus the cookies are super cute and look like pumpkins, so there's that. And you can make them ahead of time, keeping the dough in the fridge until the day of the fete and then baking them before party time. And if you really want to bake ahead of time, they'll be fine for three days after you bake them.

If you don't have pumpkin cookie cutters, you can purchase them at Target or Sur La Table. We might also suggest picking up some of the leaf cookie cutters, too, as they make for gorgeous decorations for pie tops when Thanksgiving comes around.

Here's how it's done:

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*makes 12 large pumpkin-shaped cookies

For the cookie:

12 ½ ounces unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
2 ½ cups + 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the spiced sugar topping:

1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/8 teaspoon ginger powder
Pinch of cloves powder
Pinch of nutmeg powder
2 drops orange food coloring (or 1 yellow drop and 1 red drop)

Method for making the cookies:

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Turn to medium-low speed and cream until smooth.  Add the salt and mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes, until fluffy.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla paste and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute it evenly.

Add the flour in two additions, mixing on low speed for 15 - 30 seconds after each, or until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any flour that may have settled there.

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Mound the dough on work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 5-inch-square block. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees (convection or standard).  Line two sheet pans with Silpats or parchment paper.

Unwrap the dough and place it between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap.  With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough, working from left to right, to begin to flatten it, then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat.  (This will help prevent the dough from cracking as it is rolled.)  Roll out the dough out so it is approximately ¼-inch thick.  If the dough has softened, slide it (in the parchment) onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate it until it is firm enough to cut with the pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter.

To make the sugar:

Combine the granulated sugar, spices and orange food coloring in a food processor and blend until the color is evenly distributed. Add more drops of color, as desired.  

Before baking, generously sprinkle the tops of the shortbread with the spiced sugar and arrange on the prepared sheet pans, leaving about ¾ inch between each.  Bake until pale golden brown, 15 - 18 minutes in a convection oven (or 18 - 20 minutes in a standard oven), reversing the positions of the pans halfway through baking.  Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 - 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

The shortbread can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days.

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