The touch of pumpkin and spice in these festive sandwich cookies makes for a perfect fall treat, especially when paired with the cinnamon-honey buttercream. If you can't wait to get started, Jump to the Recipe!
One of my favorite childhood memories is baking holiday cookies with my mom and siblings, and I’ve been thrilled to continue the tradition with my own children. While I keep things healthy most of the time, I also think there’s nothing wrong with some treats here and there, especially during the holidays. Even though our creations usually end up looking more like something from Nailed It! than the Great British Baking Show, it’s the fun that counts!
This year, for our annual Halloween cookie fun, my son asked me if we could make sandwich cookies instead. Or as he put it, “You know, with the ones with the frosting in the middle. Lots of frosting in the middle!” (BTW: The cookies aren’t just for Halloween...they are a great fall treat in general)!
I was immediately taken with the brilliance of this idea. On the one hand, we could still roll out the dough and cut it into different shapes, on the other hand, I wouldn’t have to worry about assembling sprinkles, separating icing into several bowls, and dying it different colors for decorating (even though the kids’ cookies always end up with the colors running together into a grayish mono-color anyway) and our cookies might actually look like something identifiable for a change! All the fun with significantly less mess? Count me in!
Of course, this plan left me with something of a challenge when it came to the recipe. Because there would be a lot of filling, the cookie would need to be soft enough that the frosting wouldn’t squish out everywhere while biting into the sandwich, but the dough would need to be firm enough to cut into shapes. The resulting dough is wetter than your typical cookie dough thanks to pumpkin puree and a touch of maple syrup, but still firm enough to work with after a chilling for a good amount of time. However, these cookies taste great. The touch of pumpkin and spice makes for a perfect fall treat, especially when you add in the cinnamon-honey buttercream. I can’t wait to make them again.
For the Cookies
2 sticks butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 TBS maple syrup
1/2 cup pumpkin puree, fresh or canned. I made fresh pumpkin puree following the steps outlined in this post.
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For the honey-cinnamon buttercream:
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup honey
1.5 sticks butter
2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS half and half, whole milk, or cream.
Optional: All-natural food coloring for the frosting or dough (if desired)
To make the dough:
Cream the butter and sugars together in a bowl, ideally using a stand mixer.
Add the egg, 2 TBS of maple syrup, and the pumpkin puree and continue to mix until all of the ingredients are incorporated.
Add the flour a bit at a time, mixing slowly. The result will be a wet, sticky dough that is a bit more batter-like than other cookie doughs.
Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, and salt. Stop mixing as soon as they are incorporated.
Work your dough into a disc, wrap it in parchment paper or place it in a reusable silicone storage bag and chill the dough. You can chill the dough for several hours in the refrigerator or stick it in the freezer for about 45 minutes to an hour (just don’t let it freeze solid). The idea is to get this wet dough very cold so it is easier to roll with a rolling pin.
Once your dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Take it out of the fridge or freezer, place it onto a floured work surface, and roll the dough out with a rolling pin.
Roll your dough to a thickness of about ⅜ inch. Then cut into shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. Because you’re making them into sandwiches, you’ll either want to use shapes that are symmetrical or flip the cookie cutter over and cut with the blunt side so you can cut a mirror image of the cookie so the two sides will fit together.
Place your cut dough on a silicone or parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for about 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. You’ll know they are ready when they are just starting to turn a bit golden, but you don’t want to overbake them or they won’t be the nice, soft sandwich cookies we’re aiming for.
Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.
Continue rolling, cutting, and baking until all your cookies are done. Allow them to cool completely before adding frosting and assembling.
Optional: If you’d like to make your cookies more festive, work natural food coloring into the dough before chilling, or add some color to the frosting before piping. Despite my best efforts to steer my son toward fall colors like orange and red, he insisted we needed to make a few cookies with blue frosting instead!
To make the frosting:
While your cookies cool, combine the butter, honey, and powdered sugar until they form a smooth, thick mixture.
Stir in the two tablespoons of half-and-half until completely incorporated.
Mix in the cinnamon.
Assembling the Cookies:
Add the frosting to a piping bag or piping tool. I use this reusable piping tool from Wilcox, and I find it much easier to use than messy piping bags. While you can simply use a spatula or knife to spread the frosting on the cookies, I highly recommend piping the frosting instead. You’ll get a much more uniform amount of frosting (not to mention more frosting) in each cookie sandwich.
Take a cookie and flip it over, so its underside is up. Pipe a nice layer of frosting onto the cookie, making sure to get a nice layer on the whole cookie as shown in the picture below.
Place a matching cookie on top. Voila! You have a delicious cookie sandwich.