No-Bake Pumpkin Butter Thumbprint Cookies with Macadamia Nuts (Gluten Free, Vegan)
I’ve been wanting to post thumbprint cookies on the blog for ages. The last two Winters I’ve had every intention of blowing your minds with my thumbprint cookie skills. This is the scene, in my mind: I pop a batch of perfectly formed, golden cookies out of the oven. Dollops of jam sparkle in the firelight. I set the hot pan on my marble countertop with a steaming pot of chai tea. The room smells like butter and cinnamon. A massive bouquet of muted dahlias, pine branches, and hawthorne berries overlooks the scene. Me and my well-coifed friends — who are all wearing clogs and have cotton candy colored hair — do jigs together around the kitchen, arm in arm. Our mouths are all full of cookies. We laugh hysterically at how wonderful it all is, our handmade linen overalls swaying as we do high kicks together into the evening. Logan chuckles in his smoking jacket while swirling a glass of scotch. Also, he has a large blond mustache.
You guys, I don’t even have marble countertops.
Nor does Logan own a smoking jacket. And scotch is gross.
Here’s what really happens: I pop a batch of goopy cookie splatter that’s melted all together out of the oven. Aw, shit! I say to myself. I place the cookies on my overcrowded countertop (fruit bowl, spice jars with the tops everywhere, dirty mixing bowls, spoons everywhere, compost bin overflowing). I put my hands on my hips and shake my head. Hey how are those cookies doing? Logan says, popping his head into the kitchen with an expectant grin. Cookie soup, you mean? I say, mouth pursed, eyebrows furrowed. Logan walks over to the counter, laughs and says, I’ll still eat it. We both look at the sheet of cookie goop. It’s still bubbling. We both burst out laughing like YEAH OK NO. Then I throw the whole thing in the trash because EW.
Many a pan full of cookie splatter has graced my trash can. Pounds of bubbling cookie slosh have been repurposed into press-in pie crusts. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten with traditional-style thumbprint butter cookies.
But, you know, I keep at it. Jam cookies are my favorite. They're that perfect combination of sweet, buttery, crisp, crumbly, tangy, fruity, jammy. Aka reasons I used to horde cherry jam rugelach at the after-church coffee hour when I was a kid. Probably the only relationship I have with my Jewish ancestors comes through Rugelach, which apparently transcends the boundaries of culture and religion because it’s just so damn good.
But what about these punkin’ cookies, tho? Well, second to a good, jam-filled thumbprint cookie is ANY COOKIE THAT’S EASY AND I CAN EAT LIKE RIGHT NOW.
And that tastes magnificent. That too.
These pumpkin butter macadamia nut thumbprint cookies are no-bake, buttery, nourishing, and delicious. The coconut sugar in the pumpkin butter caramelizes during the quick cooking process. That adds a depth and richness to the otherwise raw recipe. Macadamia nuts are basically natures version of butter. They add a smooth, sweet nuttiness to the recipe. The cookie dough base is sweetened with dates and comes together in the blender. Simply blend, form the dough into golf-ball sized rounds, make a thumbprint indentation and cool. Then fill the indentations with pumpkin butter.
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I used canned Organic pumpkin puree)
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice, ground
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup + handful macadamia nuts
- 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil, melted
- 7-8 large, fresh medjool dates, pitted
- pinch Celtic sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- In a medium sauce pot set over low heat, whisk together the pumpkin puree, coconut sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice. Cook for 5-8 minutes or so, whisking relatively constantly until the pumpkin butter thickens up and turns a burnt-caramel color (dark honey-brown). It should thickly coat the back of a spoon when done. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a high powered blender, combine the almond meal and 1/4 cup macadamia nuts. Pulse a couple of times to grind the macadamia nuts into the almond meal.
- Add the coconut oil, dates, sea salt, and cinnamon to the bowl of the blender. Blend until the mix comes together into a pliable dough (don't over blend or it will start to become more like nut-butter). Turn the dough out into a medium mixing bowl.
- Chop a handful of macadamia nuts roughly into small pieces. Knead the nut pieces into the dough.
- Pinch of golf-ball sized amounts of dough and roll the dough between your hands to form little balls. Set each ball on your parchment lined baking sheet. You'll have about 1 dozen balls, all in all.
- To shape the cookies, press your thumb into the center of each dough ball. Shaping the edges of the cookies back together with your fingers, as the cookies will crack and spread from the thumb impression.
- Set the tray in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Remove the tray of cookies and dollop about 1/4-1/2 a teaspoon of pumpkin butter in each thumbprint impression.
- Eat immediately OR if you'd like your cookies to be firmer you can freeze the tray of cookies again for 10 minutes before digging in.
- Best eaten immediately. Although you can store frozen cookies in a sealed container in the freezer for up to a week. Thaw for 5-10 minutes before consuming hard-frozen cookies.