I am an accidental genius.
Yes. Today is National Coffee Day (which, by the way, is a food holiday I can TOTALLY get behind). And I’m sharing latte cookies. And guess what? It’s a total coincidence! I had no idea that today was National Coffee Day until like…two days ago. And these were planned for today way in advance. See? Accidental genius.
I initially thought that today was the perfect day to share these adorable cookies with you because now we’re officially in the full swing of fall (yaaaaaay!!!!), and given that October starts in two days (WHAT?!), a pumpkin-spiced dessert is absolutely called for. I can promise you this: this will be the only pumpkin spice recipe I’ll be sharing this fall. I know pumpkin spice takes over the world around this time of year, and I know you probably already have approximately 2381893712837183 pumpkin recipes pinned and approximately 498 cans of pumpkin puree hoarded in your pantry (No? Just me?), but I couldn’t resist contributing just once to the pumpkin madness of 2015. I promise it will be my one and only contribution. Pinky promise.
These cookies are based off of my great-grandmother’s ginger snap recipe, which is a holiday must in my family. It is simply NOT Christmas without those addictive little cookies. So, not wanting to reinvent the wheel entirely, I used that amazing recipe as a base for these pumpkin latte cookies. I swapped in some pumpkin puree, mixed in a little espresso, and amped up the flavor factor to include SIX spices. Yes, six. They are all necessary, too, for my perfect “pumpkin pie spice” combo.
If you didn’t want to invest in six individual jars of spices, you could certainly buy your own pumpkin pie spice at the store, but I choose to make my own for a couple reasons: (1) it tastes better to me when I’m in charge of the mix (that way, it ends up being balanced, rather than over-cinnamon-y or whatever), and (2) I can add in whatever unconventional spices I like, such as cardamom. Cardamom is not a traditional pumpkin pie spice ingredient, but it is one of my most favorite spices and really takes the mix to the next level. I’ve used cardamom in many desserts, including this post where I talk about pumpkin pie spice some more, these brownies, and these donuts. It adds that little extra “hmm, what IS that” taste to whatever you use it in. It’s complex and flowery and sweet and lovely.
You get the idea. I adore cardamom.
I also adore pumpkin spice lattes. They are a once-in-awhile treat for me, and I look forward to them every fall. I must admit, however, I’m much more into pumpkin-flavored COFFEE than the lattes. It tastes like pumpkin spice but without too much sweetness. It’s more about the COFFEE than anything else. Know what I mean? Dunkin pumpkin coffee is still my favorite. Whenever I order it, I want to call it the “dunkin punkin” or the “dunk punk,” but somehow chicken out each time. Hah. With good reason.
ANYWAY. These cookies are a lovely cross between a holiday gingersnap, a soft pumpkin cookie, and the creamy indulgence of a pumpkin spice latte. They’re chewy and cakey at the same time, and the sugar coating gives them an awesome crunch. To really seal the deal, I drizzle them lightly with an espresso glaze and a few sprinkles of flaky sea salt. The sea salt, of course, is completely optional and just plays into my salt fanatical ways…but I really must insist that you TRY it. It takes the awesomeness factor to the next level. Salty sweets are the best.
I also highly recommend enjoying these with a glass of milk or a steaming mug of coffee. A medium “dunk punk” with milk would be my perfect accompaniment.
See? Genius. (Yes, I’m leaving off the “accidental” part on purpose.)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
6 tablespoons pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ cup shortening (butter just doesn’t work with this recipe – believe me, I’ve tried!)
2 teaspoons baking soda, dissolved in a little hot water
2¼ cup flour
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fine salt
Additional sugar, for coating the cookies (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or instant coffee)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar
Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
Stir together the sugar, molasses, pumpkin, and shortening until smooth in a large bowl. Whisk in the egg and dissolved baking soda.
Combine the flour, espresso powder, spices, and salt in another bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
Place the additional sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter and roll to coat in sugar.
Place the coated cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375°F for 7-8 minutes. The cookies should look puffy and undercooked when removed from oven. As they cool, they will harden and crack slightly.
In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve the espresso powder in the warm water. Whisk in the cinnamon and powdered sugar and mix until smooth and thickened. If the mixture is still too runny, add a little more powdered sugar until the mixture thickens up. You want to be able to easily drizzle it but not have it be so runny that it won’t hold its shape.
Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. If you’re like me and you like a little salt with your sweet, sprinkle the cookies lightly with the flaked sea salt. Allow the glaze to set for at least 10 minutes.
Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container.