Pumpkins feature heavily in Amish culinary culture. It's the time of year when Amish families who grow pumpkins are hard at work shepherding their crop to the finish line. And when they do they'll enjoy them in plenty of goodies, like cookies, cakes, pies, and more!
This recipe comes to me from prize-winning baker Carmon Hacker, a long-time friend going back to my days as a newspaper editor in tiny Trenton, Ohio. Interestingly, Trenton was once home to one of Ohio's earliest Amish communities along a bend in the Great Miami River south of town. The Amish community thrived for a time in the 1800s before internal divisions tore it up. Today, a remnant Mennonite congregation still exists in Trenton.
📜 Tips For Super Pumpkin Spice Cookies
You'll want to use store-bought canned pumpkin like above. Add the cake mix and other dry ingredients. A teaspoon of vanilla extract goes well in this too.
Many Amish cooks that I have met through the years have advised me that if you have time (and who does?), make these the day before you want to serve them so you can chill the cookie dough overnight. I've
I have had a lot of success with chilling dough, it does help the flavors to meld. Other cookie tips Amish cooks have given me:
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This will help create aeration in the dough, which will make the cookies light and chewy.
- Don't overmix the dough. Overmixing will develop the gluten in the flour, which will make the cookies tough.
Carmon's recipe calls for powdered sugar, and that sounds super. But, hmmm, if I were doing it, I might be tempted to make a delicious cream cheese frosting to spread on them. Or you could do a buttery, brown sugar crumb-type topping and really make them into mini-cakes!
Some people love a chocolate and pumpkin combo, so you could add some chocolate chips.
🎂 Do the Amish Used Boxed Mixes?
Well, as noted, this is Carmon's recipe, not an Amish recipe. But, yes, you will find Amish cooks who use boxed mixes. Many Amish moms have half a dozen children under their care, and they can use any shortcuts possible. Sometimes making everything from scratch just isn't in the cards time-wise. The cake mix is super because it has so much already in it. No need to use baking powder, soda, all-purpose flour, or granulated sugar. A lot of time and mess is saved by using the mix. And it saves you from having to clean one more large bowl.
We have a whole selection of Amish recipes that call for boxed cake mixes. Use a large spoon to scoop the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. You could also use an ice cream scoop. Add a pinch of salt to the mix if you are one of those people who like the sweet-salty thing.
Because of the cake mix, these cookies do come out kind of cakey in texture. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack if you have one.
🥣 Carmon's Tips & Observations
- Line cookie sheets or baking sheets with parchment paper for a no-mess experience
- These cookies are like small cakes, and make a delicious dessert or light breakfast.
- I hope you enjoy them as much as my family, as autumn leaves change to vibrant hues or anytime of year!
🙋 FAQ Pumpkin Spice Cookies
If you have leftovers, you can store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
Easy! The best kind to use is spice cake mix, but you could use chocolate or yellow cake mix for a different experience. If you do that, you might want to add additional spices like cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, or nutmeg. Otherwise, just follow the recipe below!
🎃 More Amish Pumpkin Recipes
Pumpkin is a versatile Amish favorite this time of year, found in all sorts of dishes!
🖨️ Full Recipe
Pillow-Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies
- 1 box spice cake mix (15.25 oz)
- 1 Can of pumpkin (15 oz.)
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
- ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- ½ cup walnuts, chopped
- Powdered sugar for dusting tops of cookies
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine cake mix, pumpkin, egg, oil, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Fold walnuts into the batter. Using a soup spoon, drop by slightly heaping spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, just until done in center and lightly brown at edges.
- Cool cookies on cake racks and dust with sifted powdered sugar. Makes about 40cookies.