These pumpkin cookies with spiked cream cheese frosting are like whipping up a cake, minus the work

No cake's complete without frosting. The cream cheese frosting on these cake-like cookies is made with Irish cream

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published October 17, 2020 4:30PM (EDT)

 (Courtesy Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)
(Courtesy Meghan McGarry/Buttercream Blondie)

We all love cake, but we don't always love the work that goes into making a beautiful sponge. Salon resident pastry chef Meghan McGarry of Buttercream Blondie set out to simplify our time in the kitchen with her latest innovation: cookies that taste and feel exactly like cake.

"My new pumpkin cookies are exactly what you need when you want to bake something on a crisp fall weekend before curling up on the couch by the fire with a cup of coffee or a good book," McGarry says of her easy-to-make recipe. "It's like whipping up a cake, minus all of the work."

McGarry spent the past month whipping up makeovers for classic desserts that re-introduced Salon Food to a star fall fruit: apples. After a nostalgic journey that had us whipping up apple loaf cakes, apple crisp bars and apple crumb cakes, it's time to rekindle our flame with another seasonal flame: pumpkin. 

"When I want something a little more filling than a cookie, but I'm not ready to make a pumpkin cake yet, this is where I go," McGarry tells Salon. 

These cookies are retro, with a twist. The old-school spices you know and love — cinnamon and nutmeg — are there as always to magnify the flavor of the pumpkin in the batter. So is one surprise ingredient, which was present in McGarry's viral pumpkin spiked scones last fall. 

RELATED: These pumpkin spiked coffee scones are the warm wake-up call you need this fall

"My secret weapon is espresso powder, and it's not going to knock you over the head," McGarry promises. "The powder adds another depth of flavor and warmth that blends so well with the spices."

McGarry's biggest tip when making these cookies at home is to add the espresso powder at the same time as you cream your butter and your sugar. Letting these ingredients get to know each other from the start will ensure that your first taste of cookie will be love at first bite.

RELATED: This nostalgic apple crumb cake is the ultimate no-fuss dessert to bake at home

We're not done yet, though, because no cake is complete without frosting. To complete the cake-like look, McGarry dresses up the same classic cream cheese frosting that she pairs with life-size pumpkin cakes with Bailey's Irish cream. The smooth Irish whiskey adds packs a bite that rounds out the pumpkin spice and coffee flavors packed inside the cookie. 

"You want to drape the icing over the cookie just like it's a warm blanket," McGarry says. "In this case, it's a beautiful blanket of booze." 

File this recipe under: essential fall bakes.


Recipe: Baileys Irish Cream Pumpkin Cookies


Pumpkin Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Click here to access the remainder of Meghan McGarry's pumpkin cookies. And don't forget to follow @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram for more ways to bake through it.

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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Baking Buttercream Blondie Cookies Fall Food Meghan Mcgarry Pumpkin Recipe