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Pumpkin spice shortbread cookie sandwiches filled with buttercream.

High Altitude Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies

Heather Smoke
Buttery pumpkin spice shortbread cookies, filled with fluffy vanilla bean pecan buttercream.

All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Chill Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 42 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings20 cookies (10 sandwich cookies)


  • Cookie Cutters
  • Rolling Pin
  • Snap-Together Letter Embossers
  • Food Processor
  • Stand Mixer with Paddle Attachment



  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 tbsp canned pumpkin puree (or substitute with 2 tbsp milk, for just a spiced cookie without the pumpkin flavor)
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract


  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp meringue powder, optional
  • ¾ tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • small pinch coarse Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raw pecans, very finely chopped



  • In your food processor, pulse the flour, powdered sugar, salt and spices until combined.
    With the processor running, drop in the pieces of butter, one at at time, pulsing a few times until the butter is evenly distributed, and the dough is moistened and crumbly.
    Add the pumpkin puree and the vanilla, then process until the dough starts to stick together.
  • Dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface and knead in any stray bits of flour, until you have a soft, smooth, supple dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  • Lightly flour your work surface, and roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Dust the dough with a little more flour to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin.  Use a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter to cut as many cookies as you can, then gather up the scraps, re-roll the dough and continue cutting cookies.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cut cookies 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheet. If you're embossing your cookies, as shown in the photographs, dip your alphabet letter embossers into flour, tap off the excess, and press them onto the cookies.
  • Chill the cookies in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or in the freezer for 20 minutes. Chilling the cutout cookies will help the cookies maintain their shape and not spread while baking.
  • After the cookies have chilled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake the cookies for about 11-12 minutes.  The baked cookie will still be very pale on top, but the surface will no longer look like raw dough, and you should see tiny flaky layers around the edges.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for several minutes, and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
  • Yields about 20 cookies, using a 2 1/2 inch cutter.


  • With an electric mixer (either stand or hand-held), beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the pecans), and beat for 4-5 minutes on medium speed, scraping the bowl down several times, until light and fluffy. If the buttercream seems too thick, you can beat in a tablespoon of milk.
    Fold in the chopped pecans.
  • Turn half the cookies over, so that they are bottom side up. Spread (or pipe) the frosting onto the cookies, then place a second cookie on top to make a sandwich.


Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.  If filled with buttercream, store the cookies in the refrigerator, but let come to room temperature for an hour before serving.  The cookies can be frozen for up to 3-6 months.
Keyword Cookies, High Altitude, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Spice, Shortbread
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