This Pumpkin Patch Shortbread is perfect for Halloween! Pumpkin spice-flavored shortbread cookies, buttercream frosting, and candy pumpkins combine to make an adorable, edible pumpkin patch!
Good news! I’ve finally found a use for those mellowcreme pumpkins! You know, the cute little pumpkin shapes that are inexplicably sold with the rest of the edible Halloween candy, even though I’m pretty sure they’re made of candle wax and styrofoam and various industrial byproducts? Yeah, those.
(Did I just insult half of my readers who love these weird little candies? Sorry!)
Anyhow, I am here to tell you that these pumpkins, while decidedly not delicious on their own, are perfectly tasty when combined with rich brown sugar-spice shortbread and vanilla frosting. I know what you’re thinking: anything is tasty when combined with rich brown sugar-spice shortbread and vanilla frosting. Exactly my point! We are so dessert soulmates, you and I.
These cookies start with a homemade shortbread base, sassed up a little for fall. Instead of granulated sugar I used brown sugar, and instead of zero spices I used a big heaping spoonful of pumpkin pie spices. You see where I’m going with this…
The shortbread is topped with an easy vanilla frosting, dyed two different colors of green and piped out with a variety of piping tips, to give the grasses different textures and to make each cookie a little unique. For the final touch, we’ll add a few chocolate rocks (yep, still obsessed) and some of the aforementioned mellowcreme pumpkins, which may not be good eatin’ on their own but are sure adorable as part of this edible pumpkin patch. And while we’re at it, let’s add a few frosting vines and leaves to the pumpkins, to really gild that lily. Or vine that pumpkin, if you will.
I know these cookies don’t sound like the most groundbreaking, flavor or texture-wise, but you have to believe me when I tell you we could NOT stop eating them. Something about the crispy, buttery, fall-spiced cookies and the soft vanilla frosting was completely irresistible. I almost want to throw a big Halloween party, just so I have an excuse to make them again!
Pumpkin Patch Shortbread
For the Shortbread Cookies:
- 5.6 oz all-purpose flour (1 ¼ cups)
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- ¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 oz unsalted butter (1 stick, or ½ cup), cubed
For the Buttercream:
- 4 oz unsalted butter (½ cup)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 lb powdered sugar (4 cups)
- ¼ cup milk
- Leaf green gel food coloring
- Candy pumpkins
- Chocolate rocks
To Make the Shortbread Cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 325 F and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
- Add the cubed butter to the flour, and use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the shortbread, working it in until it looks like coarse crumbs. Finish mixing the dough by hand, kneading the dough gently, just until it smooths out.
- Roll the shortbread dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick. (If you have trouble with the dough sticking, try rolling it between two sheets of parchment instead.)
- Cut the dough into squares 2 inches by 2.5 inches. Re-roll the scraps of dough and cut more squares until you have 12 squares of dough. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and bake them for 18-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Cool them completely before continuing.
To Make the Buttercream:
- Place the butter, vanilla, sugar, and milk in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sugar is moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat again on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. You can add more milk or sugar, if desired, to get the consistency you want.
- Divide the buttercream in half. Add a drop or two of green food coloring to one half, creating a light green color. Add a larger amount of green food coloring to the second half, so that you have a bold green color.
- Set aside 1/4 cup of dark green buttercream. Fit a piping bag with a coupler, and hold it in one hand, with the top of the bag cuffed around your hand. Place the remaining dark green buttercream in the bag, trying to keep it against one side only. Fill the other side of the bag with the light green buttercream. Fit the piping bag with a leaf tip, a small star tip, or a grass tip. (They all work well. You can also switch tips between cookies to get a variety of grass textures!)
- Pipe the frosting on top of the cookies so the top is entirely covered. Press one or two candy pumpkins into the top of the cookies. Scatter a few chocolate rocks over the cookie as well.
- Transfer the remaining dark green buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe swirls of frosting from the top of the pumpkin down to the grass, to represent the stems.