Pumpkin Pecan Polvorones (Mexican Wedding Cookies)

Pumpkin Pecan Polvorones (Mexican wedding cookies)

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.

Pumpkin pecan polvorones batter

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.

Pumpkin pecan polvorones cookie dough

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.

Pumpkin pecan polvorones recipe

Pumpkin pecan polvorone cookies rolled in powdered sugar

Pumpkin Pecan Polvorones

4.0 from 2 reviews

Pumpkin Pecan Polvorones (Mexican Wedding Cookies)
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Tender and nutty whole wheat pumpkin pecan cookies that are so simple to make. These little fall treats are vegan if you use coconut oil instead of butter, but if you are a butter lover or if that is all you have on hand, by all means go with the butter. Little hands might like to help roll the dough into balls, and since there are no eggs, you can savor a spoonful of dough without worries. I daresay these cookies might be better on day two.
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
Notes

Comments

  1. says

    What a great idea! I love those crumbly little cookies & adding pumpkin is a wonderful addition for Fall. I may have to make some to set out at my husband’s office – he’s a chiropractor so we’re always looking for semi-healthy goodies to share with his patients. I may even experiement with making them gluten free… Thanks for sharing!

  2. says

    Hahaha. That Michael McConaughey thing… thank you for that. :D

    These look incredible! And the color is amazing. I really, really want to make these. I’ve never even had Mexican wedding cookies, which is just silly considering I’m from Texas.

  3. says

    Oh, my; these are beautiful little nuggets of gold! I live and breath pumpkin this time of year, and polvorones are news to me. These will be mine, asap. Thanks for sharing! xxx, j

  4. says

    I totally know what you mean! I always hated fall because, growing up in the midwest, a long cold winter was in store. I must be getting old (and the 100 degree heat is finally getting to me!), because this is the first year where I’m becoming ok with it :)

    These look so gorgeous, love your healthy additions (and well, subtractions)..

  5. says

    What a lovely autumnal twist on a familiar recipe! I hope baking and delicious things-made-with-pumpkin keep you warm and cheered as you deal with the impending cold and other trials.

  6. says

    I’ve always loved fall, but know what you mean about resenting it. Winter is soooo long here in Minneapolis. Ugh. These sound so tasty! I love pumpkin-y things, and haven’t got around to making any yet. I’ll have to try these!

    • says

      Here I am dreading a cold Kansas City winter and you live in Minneapolis! I don’t know how you do it, Sarah. Hope you’ll make these when you need an excuse to turn on the oven.

      • Michelle says

        I never use wheat, I made them with spelt flour and no white sugar allowed in this house, so I used honey in its place, and no powdered sugar since it has corn starch and we all know how bad that is for you…..they are delish!

  7. says

    Ah, but doing nothing under a cozy blanket is like… an autumnal rite of passage! The Danes have it right (as usual): once the cool breezes blow in, they take up Hygge, which is more or less a pursuit of coziness. Like NEXT LEVEL coziness. Cooking, reading and quiet time are the main concerns of the day. It’s like pursuing sedentary activities as art form. Am I making fall sound maybe a tiny bit more appealing?

    Anyway. These cookies, so bomb. Can’t believe I hadn’t thought of mixing pumpkin into the polvorones party. Brilliant.

    • says

      I am so taken by the Danes’ concept of Hygge. I have central heat in this new apartment of mine, so I’ll be turning that on low and donning some slipper socks before long. Seriously, make these cookies. I swear they’re better on the second day.

  8. slywlf says

    These sound delightful! I love vegan baking – not because I am vegan, but because it gives me methods to get around a nasty dairy allergy. Pumpkin – love it – pecans – ditto – coconut oil – staple – got this covered – guess who’s baking tonight ;-) ♥

  9. says

    Never heard of these, but those photos are gorgeous and I’m seriously considering making these for my next party- I like the idea of something different rather than the same old chocolate chip cookies :)

    • says

      Hope you do make them for the party, Christy. I can’t say they’re the most attractive cookies on the outside, but it’s the inside that counts, right?

  10. maia says

    Hi Kate! I have been reading your blog for a long time and I had to stop and say thanks! im’ not a vegetarian, not even close but your blog is a favorite of mine! Your pictures are beautiful ( i really think is time that someone offers you a book deal ) and really inspirational !i want to make it all. In fact, i made your banana bread about 4 times since the first, can you believe my sister (who does not specially likes healthy meals) just fell in love with it? and all the time she is asking me to do it again! . I also enjoy very much your writing between the recipes.. I’m looking for more desserts and baked goods in the future if you can, since in my house all have a sweet tooth and is nice be able to offer them something delicious and at the same time good for us! maybe another chocolate cake recipe? haha i loved chocolate. well sorry about this long coment but is necesary congrat the people who is very inspiring and share it…
    I’m from Argentina (sorry about my english) and as you love to travel, i think that you should visit our country someday.. i’m sure you’ll really like it!. i hope that your life in the new city get better i’m sure it will be! .

    • says

      Maia, thank you for your wonderful comment. I would love to visit Argentina someday. I’ll get there, somehow! I’m happy to hear that you and your sister have enjoyed my recipes. I will definitely be baking more now that the weather has cooled down, so I’ll have more baked goods for you soon!

  11. says

    I know what you mean about the beginning of the end…I just try to remind my self that, on the bright side, ill be eating sweet potatoes almost exclusively for the next six months! Oh and pumpkin of course. Loving these cookies! Totally Matthew-esque.

  12. Louisa says

    These sound so beautfiul! I’m a huge fan of Mexican wedding cookies, so I’m definitely going to try these. Great idea.

  13. says

    I do think Fall is quite a romantic time of year, and I can imagine it being hard being in a new city! But, there’s something romantic about getting to know a new place by yourself, too. I love wedding cookies like this and your addition of pumpkin sounds fantastic! I also very much approve of the baking music choice! We’ve been listening to the new Grizzly Bear album like WOAH. Have a wonderful weekend, friend!

  14. says

    Oh really? And I thought we had several things in common, but apparently one thing we don’t share is my love for fall. Ah well, we’ll find other things in common. Love the crumbly texture of the cookies, I’m still in need to baking with coconut oil. Which brand do you use?

    • says

      You are going to love coconut oil! I like Spectrum oils in general so I tend to pick the Spectrum coconut oil. Go for one in a glass jar.

  15. Alex says

    Hi Kate! I love pumpkin…everything, and these look amazing but I’m allergic to nuts. Any suggestions for ways to replace them in the recipe? Or do you think they would still be good if I just left them out? Thanks!

    • says

      Alex, I think the cookies would be good without the nuts but the texture would be lacking some of that delicate crunch. You could get creative with other add-ins. Dried cranberries/raisins/chocolate chips might be fun!

  16. Julia says

    I made these to bring to a family dinner at a friend’s house and they got RAVE reviews. Everyone was impressed they were vegan too. After tasting the dough at the end I decided to add another probably 1/2 tsp of salt and more cinnamon, which made them taste right to me. I also didn’t roll them in sugar until they were completely cool, which makes them stay pure white and dry because the sugar doesn’t melt at all.

    • says

      So glad to hear it, Julia! Thank you for the feedback, it’s really helpful. I upped the salt and spices in the recipe based on it. I was trying to be conservative, but I really don’t think you can have too much spice in pumpkin-flavored treats.

  17. Carolyn says

    These cookies are so awesome. I mixed in the coconut oil at room temperature and the batter did get fluffy-ish. Yum!

  18. Lena says

    Mhhh, they look absolutely delisious!
    Do you think I could use honey instead of cane sugar, or would the dough become too runny?
    Thanks!

    • says

      Good question, Lena. I don’t think you could substitute honey for the cane sugar without reducing the liquid in the recipe somehow. The only liquid-y ingredients to reduce would be the oil or pumpkin, I’m really not sure if that would work! Please let me know if you try.

  19. Kitu says

    Hi Kate,

    I am just wondering how many cookies were you able to make with the ingredients listed.

    Thanks for the recipe! I can’t wait to try it!

    Cheers,
    Kitu

  20. Sarah B. says

    Such a pretty and honest little piece about this time Kathryne. I hit home with this too. Cookies look amazing. hope you are good right now. miss u, x

  21. Sherry (BTLover2) says

    Just had to let you know I made these this evening and they are soooo good! I mean really, really delicious! I knew I’d love them but even my husband, who is not a pumpkin fan, thought they were outstanding. I see an addiction coming on ;) Thanks for this recipe!!

    • says

      That’s terrific, Sherry! I’m so glad you enjoyed the cookies. I have been going through withdrawals since I ran out of them… I think I ate four on the last day so I’m a little afraid to make them again!

  22. katie-anne says

    these were absolutely delicious! they were a huge hit at the fall party i brought them to, and i’ll be making them again this week for a work event. thanks for the inspiration!

  23. Vix says

    Kate, I finally got around to making these for my husband (he’s a HUGE fan of your standard wedding cookies) and he LOVED them. I rolled twice in powdered sugar like I do with my usual wedding cookies: once warm, which creates almost a glaze, and then once cool (and the semi-melted sugar helps the second coat stick!). I will definitely be making these again…there’s still more fresh pumpkin in the fridge!

    • says

      Vix, I’m so glad you and your husband enjoyed the wedding cookies! Great tip on rolling the cookies twice. I felt like these needed a second romp in powdered sugar before they were really addictive. :)

  24. LeanBeans says

    Nice! Mine just came out of the oven and I am impressed.

    I made these with the following modifications to make gluten free and less of a hit on blood sugars

    1 C gluten free flour mix (1/2 c rice flour, 1/4 c tapioca starch, 1/4 c potato starch)
    1 C sweet white sorghum flour
    1/4 c blackstrap molasses
    1/4 c maple syrup

    I covered with powered sugar + unsweetened cocoa mix (just a dab for mine)

    These were delicious. The molasses gives it a nice dark earthy undertone. Next time I would put cocoa nibs in the mix. Coconut oil gives it a nice texture but doesn’t overwhelm. These were actually too sweet for me and I would play with the recipe a little bit more. I like the texture of the flours. It wasn’t too dense at all. They will be a big hit with my friends and family

    Thanks!

  25. says

    So I just made these and am still licking the powdered sugar off of lips and dusting my keyboard in a fne sheen of white powder. But I just had to tell you that these are AMAZING! So tasty and super easy. I will be making these again – thanks for the recipe!

  26. Ashley says

    Thanks Kate, another successful recipe I have made from your blog! These cookies were amazing, so easy to make and taste great!! I am going to make them again as a Thanksgiving snack for my family. I think my boyfriend had about 8 of them last night, I kept finding powdered sugar on the counter, on the rug, on the couch etc….they are almost all gone after one night!

    • says

      Haha, awesome! These cookies are addictive, can’t blame him for eating eight in one night. So glad you enjoyed them. Thank you for commenting, Ashley!

  27. Meghan says

    So, I had to tell you… tomorrow night I am going to an autumn, “hooray, a friend got engaged” Mexican-food feast… and these cookies are PERFECT! They hit all three points of the theme for the party, and I can’t wait to share them! Thanks for the recipe.

  28. says

    Since these cookies are AMAZING, I’ve decided to make a second batch for xmas. Why? I’m meeting my bf’s family for the first time and I bet these will win them over!

  29. Karen says

    Would you still use 1/2 c of coconut oil if solid and has anyone used anything besides
    a spelt flour. I can’t do whole wheat. Thanks.

    • says

      Yes, use the same amount of oil either way. I’ve heard that these are good when make with gluten-free flour blends. I have wondered if oat flour might be good, too, since these cookies don’t rise like most.

    • says

      I’m glad they turned out well with gf flour. I thought they might be a good candidate for that since the cookies don’t really rise or fluff up. Thanks for letting me know, Karen!

  30. says

    I made these and wrote about them here.

    I had such high hopes for these cookies. Ultimately, they are not the buttery shortbread delights that are the classic Russian Tea Cakes. I kept popping them into my mouth expecting the original version and being disappointed every time, just because they look exactly like Russian tea cakes!

    I do plan on making these again, but leaving them as raw cookie dough bites. I liked the dough better uncooked and that way they won’t look a thing like the traditional Russian tea cakes.

    thank you for sharing this recipe!

  31. Lindsey says

    I made these because I grew up eating these around the holidays…every…single…year and my father NEVER changed the recipe! So I was so excited to see a play on the original…AND THEY WERE AMAZING! I’m bringing them home to suprise my dad next week, thanks for the recipe!

  32. Sarah says

    I had a leftover farmers market pumpkin and a sweet tooth and googled recipes on a whim – I’m so lucky I found these! I made a batch for my roommates and we loved them! I wi have to double or triple the recipe if I want any to try the second day :)

  33. Traci Sellers says

    These are great! If you coat them with powdered sugar hot, then do a second coat when cooled it sticks better and becomes opaque and pretty!

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