I love pumpkin pie and dishes that remind me of pumpkin pie, and few things come as close to pie without being pie as these Pumpkin Butter Pocket Cookies. These cookies may appear to be sandwich cookies at first glance, but they are actually sealed up to create a pocket that holds the filling in place. It also gives them the look of miniature pies, which makes for a great presentation on a cookie platter.
The tender cookies are filled with pumpkin butter, which is a fruit butter made by cooking pumpkin with sugar until it forms a smooth, sweet puree. Pumpkin butter has a concentrated pumpkin flavor and a creamy consistency (though it uses no actual butter), so it does an excellent job of mimicking a traditional pumpkin pie filling in this recipe. You can make your own or buy it, as many stores – including Trader Joe’s – carry it along with their other fruit preserves this time of year.
The cookies are made with a cream cheese-enriched dough that is easy to handle and a good choice for making rolled cookies like these. You’ll notice that the dough is very stiff when you are making it – and that is exactly what you want, because it makes the dough easier to handle and much less sticky. The baked cookies are tender and not too sweet, with a slight tang from the cream cheese in the dough. They create a perfect base for the filling and let the warm sweetness of the pumpkin butter pop, just like pumpkin pie filling in a good crust. To create the pockets, you’ll need two different sizes of cookie cutters. My base cookie cutter was about 2-inches in diameter, and the smaller one I used was about 1 inch across. You don’t need to use the exact same measurements, but it is ideal for the center cutout to be about half the size of the whole cookie.
These cookies keep very well when stored in an airtight container and can be made two days in advance of when you plan to serve them. That said, they are also delicious when served fresh from the oven if you’re not too pressed for time during the holidays.
Pumpkin Butter Pocket Cookies
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup pumpkin butter
1 egg white
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together confectioners’ sugar, butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, followed by vanilla extract. Gradually blend in the flour mixture. Dough will be thick. Divide dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 60-90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut the dough into individual cookies. Use a smaller cutter to cut the centers out of half of the cookies.
Place the whole rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Place a teaspoon of filling onto each round of dough and spread it until it is within 1/2 inch of the edge of the cookie. Lightly beat the egg white and use a pastry brush to brush a little on the edges of the cookie rounds, trying not to spread the pumpkin filling around. Place one of the cookie rounds with a cut out on top of the pumpkin cookie and use a fork to gently seal the edges.
Bake for 13-15 minutes, until very lightly browned around the edges. Allow to cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen.