Times-tested cookies perfect for holiday giving.

photoFrosted Pumpkin Rocks

1 cup (5 ounces) raisins
3 cups all-purpose white flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup (1 stick plus 2-2/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
1/4 cup light molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin (not seasoned pumpkin-pie filling)
Cream cheese frosting:
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, slightly softened and cut into chunks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain well and set aside.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the sugar and butter until very well blended and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the oil, molasses, vanilla and pumpkin until evenly incorporated. Beat or stir in the flour mixture, then the raisins, until evenly incorporated.

Drop the dough onto the baking sheets in golf-ball-size mounds, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned all over and slightly darker at the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.

For the frosting: In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low, then medium speed, beat together the powdered sugar, cream cheese and vanilla until well blended and very smooth. Add the orange juice and beat until evenly incorporated. If the frosting is very stiff, add enough water to thin it to a spreadable but still firm consistency.

Set the wire racks with the cookies over wax paper to catch drips. Using a table knife, swirl about 1 teaspoon frosting over the center of each cookie top. Let stand until the frosting completely sets, at least 1 hour.

Makes 30-35 (23/4-inch) cookies. Store in a single layer or layered with waxed paper in an airtight container for up to one week or freeze for up to one month.

Times testing notes: These are soft cookies with wonderful flavor. Because of the icing, they might be problematic for gifts because they’ll get smushed if stacked. Keep them for your family!

Source: “The All-American Cookie Book” by Nancy Baggett (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2001).

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