For some reason I am into the holiday spirit a little early this year. It’s not even Halloween and I’m already going crazy in my kitchen with colorful fall-inspired recipes. And one recipe that’s been calling my name a lot lately is my delicious spiced pumpkin cookies with maple frosting. I hadn’t made these in a looong time (at least 2 years) and well I was more than overdue. It coincided with my decision to add something compact to my usual holiday pie fare Easy Sweet Potato Super Food Tart.
It’s especially important for me to have super delicious healthy treats around this time of year with so much temptation in full force. I have and always will have a sweet tooth. Hubby’s continual urging for me to make these helped too. I think every time I make these sugary sensations he loves them even more. This bag of cookies is not one to miss.
These cookies contain all the great flavors of the fall pumpkin season so it was a given they would be a hit. I used fresh pumpkin which was processed than blended for a smoother consistency. You can also use canned pumpkin or steam the fresh peeled pumpkin until soft. Either way you’re getting zapped with a megadose of nutrients especially Vitamin A. Add those alluring pumpkin spices and it couldn’t possible be more fragrant.
When most people think of pumpkin only one season usually comes to mind however it’s an extremely versatile squash that can be eaten all year round. Like all of its relatives, pumpkin can be used in both savory and sweet recipes and adds distinction to each one. But it’s presence in desserts is when it truly shines. Fresh pumpkin mixed with spices….the fragrance alone is enough to impress. But make no mistake about it, this wonderful fruit (yes, fruit) has a lot more going on than that. Here are just a few interesting tidbits:
- Pumpkin comes from the Greek word, ‘pepon’, which means a ‘large melon.’
- Pumpkins are technically considered a fruit since they contain seeds.
- Pumpkins contain high levels of vitamin A, carotenoids, fiber, tryptophan, and potassium.
- Pumpkins are 90% water.
- Pumpkins grow on every continent except Antarctica.
Creating these cookies is easy. Once the wet cookie ingredients have been pureed, you mix in the dry ingredients then dehydrate or bake. I included cacao nibs and chopped almonds in my batch so I wouldn’t miss a thing but you can skip the nut altogether for a lower-fat version. After dipping into the completed batter, I got down to work and shaped it into nice happy circles. They were quickly ready to dehydrate (or bake). I dehydrated mine. Then the hardest part; waiting for the cookies…and waiting…and waiting…….did my watch stop?
There are two options for the frosting depending on which you prefer. Maple butter (or maple cream) is maple syrup that’s been boiled again, cooled, and then stirred like crazy until it becomes thick and creamy. The texture is just like moist frosting and even dries to a nice crispy exterior when air-dried. In fact if you air-dry it long enough it will eventually turn into maple candy. I purchase my maple butter ready-made in a jar but if you get the inclination you can make it yourself. America’s Test kitchen has a great video on how to do this.
I included a second recipe for the frosting using cashews and maple syrup which is also very delicious and works just as well as the maple butter. In fact, it tastes just like the jarred maple butter only a little creamier. Keep in mind the frosting is purely optional; the cookies are brilliant on their own.
Once dehydrated (or baked and cooled), my cookies were ready to be frosted. I then garnished with extra cacao nibs. As they say, the first bite is always the best. Maple, almond, oats, spices, cacao…wow, what a treat.
I have to report that after just one cookie, hubby announced that it was the best cookie he’d ever eaten. Of course he’s a little biased, but I was a bit stunned nonetheless. I wondered how my cookies could compare to the many brands and millions of cookies floating out there in cookie land. I do have to admit they are pretty dang good. But the best? Well, you be the judge. I was just happy that he loved them so much. Natural ingredients just rule.
If you manage to have any leftovers, these cookies store very well. They’ll soften a bit once they settle down and (to me) taste even better the next day. But they are incredible warm and fragrant right out of the dehydrator or oven. These gems are sure to make your holiday or anytime extra special, extra fun and extra delicious; a super-healthy treat for kids and adults alike. I hope you enjoy these spicy fall-inspired cookies that are perfect any time of year. Eat with abandon and feel free to swoon if the urge arises. They really appreciate that.
This recipe is raw, dairy and gluten-free, and yields about one dozen cookies.
Maple – Glazed Spiced Pumpkin Cookies
- You can substitute pumpkin with sweet potatoes, yams, butternut, or any other fleshy squash.
- You can finely grind the oats with either a coffee/nut grinder, food processor, or flour mill.
For raw pumpkin puree – peel and chop into large pieces. Add to a food processor to finely chop. Transfer to a high-speed blender and process until smooth. If you try to use just your blender from start to finish, you’ll have to work it quite a bit to get the pumpkin smooth enough. If needed, add a small amount of water during blending.
For cooked pumpkin puree – steam in a small amount of water until fork-tender. Add to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Let cool to room temperature before using.
Spiced Pumpkin Cookies:
- 2 cups chopped fresh pumpkin, pureed per one of the above methods
- 2 1/2 cups rolled oats, finely ground
- 1/4 cup unsalted almond butter or other nut butter of choice or coconut butter or coconut cream or unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup cacao nibs (depending on how much you want)
- 1/4 cup chopped almonds (optional)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup maple syrup
- 2 – 3 Tbsp coconut/palm sugar or maple sugar or other dark granulated sugar of choice (optional)
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla or 1/4 tsp vanilla-flavored liquid stevia to taste
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- stevia to taste (optional)
- Add the pureed pumpkin, almond butter, maple syrup, spices, vanilla, and sea salt to the food processor and process until smooth.
- Transfer mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Fold in the rolled oats, chopped almonds, and cacao nibs until well mixed.
- Shape the cookie dough into 2 1/2-inch round cookies.
To dehydrate – place on a mesh dehydrator sheet and dehydrator at 115 degrees for 8 – 12 hours or until desired texture is achieved. You can dehydrate less time for softer chewier cookies.
To bake – add to a greased cookie sheet and bake in 350 degrees oven for about 15 – 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before frosting.
- 1 cup (8 oz.) pure maple butter
Maple Cashew Butter:
- 1 cup Sweet Whipped Cashew Crème (using 3/4 cup maple syrup instead of coconut water in the recipe)
- 4 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 1 tsp maple extract (optional)
- dash of cinnamon (optional)
- Add all the ingredients except coconut oil to a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Add the coconut oil and blend again just until well incorporated.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour or until it’s the consistency you want. You can also freeze to thicken faster.
- Yields about 1 cup.
- Place cookies on a cookie rack or plate.
- Spread frosting over each cookie.
- Garnish with cacao nibs or other toppings of choice
- Serve immediately or store refrigerated up to 7 days.