By Angela Denstad Stigeler
Halloween is all about pumpkins, chocolate and disguises. So if you feel like concocting a little treat encompassing all three, here’s a handy trick: chocolate icebox wafers sandwiched with a pumpkin filling. The cookies are made with a simple slice-and-bake method, which means they come together in the bat of an eye. If you can find extra dark cocoa powder, use it here for a cookie stack dark as a witch’s hat. The simple sweet filling is bewitchingly spiced and naturally colored with pureed pumpkin’s orange glow. A clever trick with chopsticks can even transform them into pumpkin-shaped confections, which makes them appear more fussy than they are. You’ll swear it’s witchcraft that these cute little treats could be so easy to prepare. And with one taste, you’re sure to be under their spell.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves
a pinch of salt
To make the cookies, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to mix thoroughly. Cut the butter into tablespoons and add them to the bowl and pulse several times to incorporate. Combine the milk and vanilla in a small cup. With the processor running, add the milk mixture and continue to process until the mixture clumps around the blade or the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead a few times to make sure it is evenly blended. Form the dough into two logs about 1 3/4 inches in diameter. If desired, use chopsticks or small wooden dowels to press indentations into the logs, forming a stem shape. Wrap the log in wax paper or foil and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour, or until needed.
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the log of dough into slices a scant 1/4-inch thick and place them one inch apart on the lined sheets. Bake, rotating halfway through, for a total of 12 to 15 minutes. The cookies will puff up and deflate. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets.
Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing the confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin, spices and salt. Knead it until evenly blended, form into a log slightly smaller than the cookies and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
To assemble the cookies, slice a thin round of the filling, flatten and press it onto the bottom of one cookie, bringing it almost to the edge, then top with anther cookie, pressing together to adhere.