Fall is for lovers. Everything about the season seems rooted in romance: leaves in shades of gold and crimson, swift breezes that nudge couples closer together and prompt us to cozy up by a fire. I catch myself rolling my eyes at the season’s showy displays while begrudgingly admitting that it is all rather pretty.
I resent fall, not just because I’m experiencing it alone in a new city, but also because fall signifies the end. Spring’s optimism is long gone, summer’s frenetic energy is dissipating and I feel forced to slow down. Fall’s cool weather makes me want to park myself on the couch under a blanket and do precisely nothing.
However, if there is one thing about this season that I willingly embrace, it’s the warm autumnal flavors of pumpkin and spice. As my friend Alissa said, pumpkin is “like the Matthew McConaughey of fall produce.” Sprinkled with some ginger and allspice for a little extra heat? Irresistible.
I should also admit that these pumpkin spice are good. Really good. They are powdered sugar-dusted nuggets of goodness with tender, golden insides. I adapted them from a very basic recipe for polvorones, which I have always known as Mexican wedding cookies, a simple, not-too-sweet shortbread-like cookie made with nuts and no leavener.
Polvorones usually call for a good amount of butter, but I cut the butter in half in order to incorporate pumpkin purée. I also swapped in coconut oil for the remaining butter (since I like the taste and coconut goes well with pumpkin) and ended up with vegan cookies. The cookies are a little less crumbly than their all-butter counterparts, but I loved them nonetheless. Don’t have coconut oil? Go for butter instead. Either way, definitely make these cookies.
- ½ cup melted coconut oil or room temperature butter
- ½ cup pumpkin purée
- ½ cup fine cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 slightly heaping cup raw pecans or raw pecan pieces
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Lightly toast the pecans in a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, under they are nice and fragrant. Remove from heat. You can either use a food processor to finely chop the pecans (about 10 pulses should do it, don't blend so well that you end up with pecan butter) or finely chop the pecans with a chef's knife on a cutting board (you might want to let the pecans cool a little before chopping).
- In a large bowl, beat the coconut oil or butter, pumpkin purée, cane sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Since I used melted coconut oil, it didn't get light and fluffy but it did blend well (I wonder if it would get light and fluffy with solidified coconut oil at room temperature?). Gradually add the chopped pecans and flour, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended.
- Using your hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, leaving about 1½-inch space around each cookie (the cookies will not expand in size).
- Bake for 14 to 15 minutes, until the bottoms of cookies are lightly browned. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Pour the powdered sugar into a small bowl and roll the warm cookies liberally to coat in powdered sugar. Taste, and if the cookies aren't quite sweet enough to delight, give them another roll in powdered sugar. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack.