Holiday Pumpkin Cookies

Photo by Cindy Dyer

By this time, mom was well into baking her Christmas cookies. The extra freezer was packed with various containers labeled with the names. I wonder if she knew we used to sneak frozen cookies out of those containers well before she intended them to be eaten? Who am I kidding? Of course she did!

Mom made up her cookie recipes. She named them with to-the-point names, most often using the words “holiday” or “Christmas” in the titles. Mom didn’t waste words and this was demonstrated even in her cookie titles. She used ingredients like Crisco and even sometimes “oleo.” (Remember that word?). Some of her measurements don’t even exist today in newly-packaged items with new weights.

When mom died in 2000, my sister Jane attempted to put all her recipes in a book and called it DeDe’s Delights. She did a great job, but I still have some written in mom’s handwriting that didn’t make the book.

Mom’s gone but her cookies and many of her recipes live on. Hope you enjoy this cookie recipe.

DeDe's Holiday Pumpkin Cookies (Photo by Cindy Dyer)

Holiday Pumpkin Cookies by Lois “DeDe” Garneau

  • 1 cup shortening (this means Crisco, luckily, today, you can buy them in pre-measured sticks)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup solid pack pumpkin

Cream the above, then add the following:

  • 1-3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (usually a mixture of cinnamon, ground cloves and allspice)

Drop and top with pecan half.

Bake at 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

My variation: For Christmas, top with red and green sugar and the pecan. Or do some without the pecan for non-nut eaters. However, the original version is the one in the photo.

“You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille…”

I served Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll for Thanksgiving and may do so again for Christmas (using holly greens instead of the strawberries.)

Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll is about the best thing I have ever tasted. I met Lucille Nestler in 1988 when I started my career at the Hearing Loss Association of America. Lucille was a weekly volunteer. Some might call her a “little old lady.” Little, yes. Old, hardly. She would be considered a senior, but she was not a little old lady. Lucille wore hearing aids and missed a lot of what you said, but she would beam a disarming smile and kindly ask you to repeat.

Lucille was sprightly and positive. Her husband died when their only son was young and she decided that she would raise her son doing things her husband would have done with him. She taught him to fish, hike, and how to catch pollywogs. She knew she couldn’t fill the shoes of a dad, but she would do her best so he wouldn’t miss out on certain things. The result was an enduring and close relationship with her son, his wife and her grandchildren.

She also loved to bake. Her regular treats brought to the office were crispy peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, applesauce cake and, on special occasions, her pumpkin roll. She never installed air-conditioning in her Washington, D.C., area home where the temps soar and the humidity swealters. Yet, she continued to bake and bring goodies to the office weekly, year round. She would apologize when she didn’t have time to do so.

This year I ran across her neatly-typed recipe she gave me for her pumpkin roll. It would be part of this year’s feast. But one thing I needed to know…could I make it ahead of time and freeze it? I had to know because the dessert had to cooperate with this year’s “Do-Ahead Thanksgiving” which I will write about when I wrap up all the short entries.

I don’t know where Lucille is, but she must be around 90. I wanted so much to be able to call her and ask her advice about freezing her pumpkin roll and catch up. Fond memories flooded my thoughts. As the song goes, you picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.

Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll

  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cookie sheet. (1” sides, 10 x 15) and cover with wax paper. Grease again. Mix all of the above ingredients and pour into pan. Bake 10-15 minutes until center springs back. Lay a tea towel (not terry) on table and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Flip cake on towel and peel off paper. Roll pumpkin in the towel and let it cool for several hours.

Spread cream cheese filling onto baked pumpkin cake and roll up.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients. Unroll pumpkin loaf and spread with filling. Roll up again. Wrap in wax paper and then in foil. Refrigerate. Slice when ready to serve.

Note: I took a leap of faith and froze the Lucille’s Pumpkin Roll. It freezes beautifully.