Cream Cheese Filled Pumpkin Cookies

1 package (8 oz) lite cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin (or homemade puree)
1 egg
Red, Yellow and Green food colors, optional
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, 12 oz package
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons flour

Beat together softened butter, white sugar and packed brown sugar. Stir in vanilla, pumpkin, egg and a couple drops each red and yellow food color (enough to make cookie dough orange); stir in chocolate chips. Add 3 cups flour, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking powder; stir to thoroughly mix. Remove approximately 1/2 to 2/3 cup cookie dough and set aside. Roll remaining cookie dough out between two sheets of lightly floured wax paper or parchment paper into a 12x15x1/4 inch rectangle. Freeze dough while preparing cream cheese filling.

Knead a couple drops green food color into reserved 1/2-cup cookie dough. Roll dough into approximately 36 small marble size balls, refrigerate/freeze until ready to use.

Beat cream cheese until smooth; add powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons of flour; beat until smooth and creamy. Remove cookie dough from freezer; peel off top parchment paper; spread prepared cream cheese over 2/3 the width of the rectangle (keep cream cheese on one side of dough and spread out to both ends). Using the parchment paper to carefully lift, roll cookie into a log, starting on the long cream cheese side (jelly roll fashion with cream cheese in center). Wrap log in parchment, return to freezer for 2-3 hours, preferable overnight (or until stiff).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove cookie dough from freezer, remove parchment wrap, cut into 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick slices; place on prepared baking sheet. Place a green marble size piece of dough at the top of each cookie and slightly flatten to form a stem. Bake about 12-13 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool cookies on rack. Enjoy with a glass of cold milk.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

* NOTE: Pumpkin Pie spice may be replaced with mixture of 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.

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