Real pumpkin, pecans, caramel frosting, and all the right “pumpkin spice” spices combine in these gooey, nutty, spicy, pumpkiny bites of fall flavor heaven.
As a recipe developer, there are days you wonder, “what was I thinking?” and other days you exclaim, “Wow. I hit that one out of the park!” This is an out-of-the-park day.
Last year I came up with a spritz cookie recipe that wasn’t just pumpkin spice, it was made with real pumpkin. It was a definite hit, and I got many compliments on it. This year I kept wondering how on earth I would top that; what I could add to a fall-themed, pumpkin flavored cookie to offer a new recipe.
The answer, it turned out, was caramel and pecans.
I’d had a few tasty delights that featured a combination of the three, and had a hunch it would make something extraordinary.
After fiddling with the pumpkin cookie recipe itself, to no avail, I realized sometimes you can’t top perfection, LOL. I decided to leave the already awesome cookie as it was and stuff it with a caramel pecan filling. My son said this wasn’t just a home run; it was a grand slam.
So here we go. Pumpkin Caramel Pecan Sandwich Cookies. All joking aside, I genuinely hope you all enjoy them and find them as tasty as we do!
I used disks from the Thanksgiving and Leaves & Trees Disk Sets, plus the Pumpkin Disk from the Halloween Set (pictures and links below). I used the oak leaf, cornucopia, turkey, pumpkin, maple leaf, oak leaf 2, aspen leaf, gourd/pumpkin, dogwood leaf, and acorn disks. This recipe would work equally well with any combination of these. I wanted to show you how the best of the fall disks would look in this recipe. Maybe you’ll just choose one, maybe a dozen. Either way they’ll be gobbled up fast.
You’ll need the cookie press disks, a press, and the ingredients below.
For the cookies:
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
For the filling:
6 Tablespoons butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
¾ cup finely ground pecans
Preheat your oven to 400°F
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, cream the butter very well. I am admittedly rather repetitive about this, but it’s the thing I stress the most about making spritz cookies. Set that mixer on the highest setting and pretend you’re making frosting.
Add the pumpkin and cream again. Add the sugars and whip it well until you have a fluffy mixture. Add the vanilla and eggs and do it again! It’s an absolutely beautiful dough at this stage.
Slowly add the flour mixture on low speed. Mix until the flour is completely incorporated and you have a consistent texture and a slightly stiff dough. This dough does well if you let it sit for about 10 minutes before putting it In the press. It becomes drier, stiffer, and easier to press as it sits.
I laughed when I caught a rainbow in the bowl! I am somewhat obsessed with rainbows. I have six crystal prisms in my kitchen window, several of which I’ve had since childhood. At the right time of day my kitchen is awash in scattered rainbows. This is, incredibly, the first time one has wound up in a blog photo!
Back to baking. Pack the dough into your cookie press, using the back of a spoon to remove all air pockets as you go.
**A note about the shapes! Because these are sandwich cookies, you will want to flip any disks that are not symmetrical. This is because they are going to be paired up with one right side up cookie and another upside-down. The not symmetrical shapes will match correctly when one cookie faces one way and the other faces the opposite. If this is confusing look at the Cinnamon Bunny Sandwich Cookies post. There are good photos of the concept there.
If you’re not all that picky about them fitting perfectly, don’t worry about it. To be honest, I totally forgot and mine still look fine. Sure, the pumpkin stems face opposite directions on the top and bottom cookies, and I had to tweak the oak leaf a bit, but it’s okay. They taste so good no one will care.
Choose your first shape and begin pressing onto ungreased cookies sheets. Spritz cookies have to stick to the pan as you press their shapes, so never grease cookie sheets and don’t use non-stick pans. These are maple, dogwood, aspen, and oak leaves.
Remember that the first few often come out wrong, as pressure needs to build up in the barrel. Once you are achieving a good shape, try to press in a consistent rhythm. Remember that with one-click-per-cookie presses, some shapes might take a bit less than a full click yet others might require you to squeeze a little more after the click. If you seem to get out of synch and it just isn’t working, try pressing a cookie into the air, just letting dough come out. It will re-establish proper pressure. Just wipe the dough away and put it back in the bowl to be re-pressed.
These cookies take about 7 minutes in my oven. I recommend setting the timer for 6 minutes and checking often to figure out what works with your oven. Remember, small cookies bake faster and large cookies take longer. Keep that in mind when pressing. Group like sizes together if you can to avoid burned or under-baked cookies.
These don’t need any sugars sprinkled on them, as the sandwich filling will be way sweet enough!
The candy eyes I used on the turkeys are added with a dab of icing after baking. There’s a link to buy then at The Baker’s Kitchen below.
Let them cool on the cookie sheet for about 2 minutes before removing to a wire cooking rack. This helps prevent breaking.
Now to make them into sandwiches. First, grind up your pecans into sizes that are small enough to stuff between two cookies. You don’t want little boulders in there or you’ll have terribly lopsided sandwiches! But you don’t have to be overly picky, either. I used a Magic Bullet to grind mine. A blender or food processor would work well too.
Now make the filling. This is a boiled caramel icing recipe.
Place the butter, heavy cream and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stir often, warming the mixture till it just begins to boil. It will have a nice, smooth sheen. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Add the vanilla. Pour it into a medium bowl and refrigerate until fairly set or firm. It took mine about a half an hour. I stirred it a few times so it would set evenly.
Remove from the refrigerator and slowly add the powdered sugar. Let it set for a few minutes, then add the pecans.
Feel free to add more or less pecans if you like. This is just the ratio that was tastiest to me. Heck, if you don’t like nuts, leave them out. And if you should find a big pecan chunk as you’re mixing them in? Do yourself a favor, for Pete’s sake pick that thing out and eat it! Oh, the yummy heaven. This stuff is addictive. My teenage son gave it all thumbs up.
To make the sandwiches, match up your cookies by shape and size (and one of each direction for the asymmetrical ones) so they’ll fit well together. Notice my oak leaves face the same way. Whoops. That’s what not to do.
Turn one cookie over and frost it. Put them together and voila! Pumpkin Caramel Pecan Sandwich Cookies.
Now eat some, They won’t last long once everyone else gets a hold of them.
As always, Happy Baking to you!
Disk Designer/Co-Owner at Impress! Bakeware, LLC
“Get creative with your cookie press!”
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The Thanksgiving, Leaves, and Halloween Disk Sets:
The candy eyes I used here can be found at: http://www.thebakerskitchen.net/3/16-in-Candy-Eyes-Assorted-Colors—1000-Count-Pack.aspx