Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
3½ cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
5 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons milk
1 cup powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
To prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, and reserve.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat shortening and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin puree and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Drop rounded teaspoons of dough 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes; do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare icing: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, butter and milk, and bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, set aside and cool completely, about an hour. Whisk in powdered sugar until icing is desired consistency, adding more if necessary. Ice cookies to taste.
2006 Finalist: Amy Karlen of Minnetonka, Minnesota