During fall, I make my banana bread and favorite chocolate chip cookies on repeat, but I enjoy incorporating pumpkin baked goods into rotation. But sometimes pumpkin can be overdone in fall desserts. That’s why I really appreciate this mascarpone cookie recipe. It uses pumpkin for flavor and soft texture but is topped with a homemade espresso frosting that sets it apart from your typical fall dessert. Especially if you’re a tiramisu fan, these cookies will be a huge hit.
“What is Mascarpone?” And other FAQs
Before we dive in, let’s get the facts straight about mascarpone and its role in these pumpkin cookies!
Mascarpone is a key ingredient in tiramisu, but it’s a versatile and delicious cream. You can sub it for American cream cheese and make a mascarpone cheesecake or use it as a whipped cream-like topping (like I did on my cherry apple crumble). You can also use it how you might use cream cheese and spread it on toast, adding some honey or nuts to top it off.
Mascarpone frosting may split if you’re mixing it with other ingredients that aren’t the same temperature. Here, I suggest mixing chilled mascarpone with chilled heavy cream for that very reason.
If your frosting, does split, you may be able to salvage it using the double boiler method. On a low heat, gently warm the curdled mixture while constantly whipping it. Stop once lumps are gone. Know that this process is quick so don’t overheat your frosting. It’ll need to return to room temperature before you can whip it again with a mixer.
In this recipe, American cream cheese will be your next best bet, though I haven’t tried it here. The flavor will be different, and it will be firmer to whip than mascarpone would be. I’d recommend adding a few teaspoons of heavy cream to it at a time to thin it in the bowl of a stand mixer. You can also warm it in a heat-proof bowl in your microwave in short bursts to help loosen it.
Mascarpone Cookie Ingredient List
The recipe card contains all the steps and ingredients, but below are a few key items that bring flavor to these tiramisu cookies:
- Pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste – In an online baking class I took once, Christina Tosi of Milk Bar taught us that you don’t need expensive vanilla extract for good flavor. So the extract from your local grocery store is perfectly fine for this recipe. I never taste much difference between pricier extracts and more basic ones.
- Instant espresso powder and unsweetened cocoa powder – These two simple ingredients help bring in the feel and flavors of tiramisu in this cookie recipe.
- Creamy mascarpone cheese – Mascarpone is a sweet cream that has similarities to American cream cheese. However, mascarpone, which is sometimes called Italian cream cheese, has a higher fat content (about 20% more) than its American cousin. American cream cheese is also more tangy and firm than mascarpone. Mascarpone is made from butterfat and leaves a noticeably velvety mouth texture behind after you eat it.
Steps for Making the Cookie Dough
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or using an electric mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until just combined, about 60 seconds on medium speed. For best results, use room temperature butter for creaming.
In a small bowl, whisk together your pumpkin puree, egg yolk, and vanilla and rum extracts. Pour it into the large bowl of creamed butter and sugar, and beat all wet ingredients together on medium-speed until just combined.
Add your dry flour mixture ingredients to the bowl and stir on a low setting until just combined. Use a spatula to finish incorporating your dry into your wet ingredients.
Scoop dough and roll it into balls. Place balls of dough onto unlined cookie sheet.
Bake cookies for about 14 minutes, or until they bounce back slightly if you touch them.
Remove cookie pans from oven and keep cookies on the baking sheet for about five more minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to fully cool. Shape with round cookie cutter or top of a drinking glass to fix any jagged or uneven sections on their edges.
Why You’ll Love these Pumpkin Mascarpone Cookies
If you’re a fan of tiramisu, you’ll especially appreciate these soft, tender cookies.
The flavor combos of coffee (from the espresso powder), pumpkin, pumpkin spice, and hint of chocolate from the cocoa powder together make for a great flavored cookie.
And in the frosting recipe, you’ll see rum extract. This isn’t a need-to-have, but it does add a little “oomph” to your flavors. Plus, many tiramisu recipes call for rum or rum extract.
But if you don’t have the extract, you can skip it. I don’t recommend using actual rum here. Extracts are much more concentrated versions of the flavors they recreate. You would have to add a lot of rum to your frosting to achieve the same effect. Doing that could really water down your consistency and make it runny.
For similar reasons, I used espresso powder in this recipe instead of part of a cup of coffee. Too much liquid can create problems in the texture of cream-based desserts and sweet treats.
Mascarpone Espresso Frosting
When making the mascarpone frosting, I highly recommend using a chilled mixing bowl and chilled beaters OR chilled bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer.
If you’ve ever made homemade whipped cream, you’ll know that using a cold bowl and whisks is key to getting the proper consistency.
If you want to also color some of the frosting orange, whip up all of your mascarpone espresso frosting at once. Put half of it in your piping bag and add a few drops of orange food gel to your remaining bowl of frosting. Mix it and then add it to another piping bag.
I used Wilton tips 1M and 32, an open star tip, for decorating.
Once decorated, you can amp up the flavors of these finished cookies by dusting the tops of these pumpkin-flavored cookies with cocoa powder.
You could play with that, though.
If you want more spice, you could mix pumpkin spice with cocoa. Or use pumpkin spice by itself. Or you could do a dusting of espresso powder to amp up the coffee flavor. The possibilities are endless but all will be pretty delicious!
More Dessert Recipes
Try these mini pumpkin muffins, dusted with cinnamon sugar, if you’re looking for more easy pumpkin-themed recipes.
And these brown butter sugar cookies are another simple and delicious cookie recipe you can easily make at home.
These mascarpone cookies are moist, flavorful, and chewy. Topped with espresso frosting, they taste like a pumpkin cake and tiramisu cookie.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Frosting prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 18 cookies 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: American
For the pumpkin cookies:
- 1 3/4 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 T pumpkin pie spice
- 1 T espresso powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (if using table salt, cut in half)
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup (180 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) canned pumpkin puree
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 2 tsp rum extract
For the mascarpone espresso frosting:
- 8 ounces cold mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup (80 grams) cold heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp rum extract
- 1 1/2 tsp espresso powder
- Cocoa powder for dusting
Optional: A few drops of orange food coloring for ~fall vibes~
- Preheat oven to 350°F. You may line a baking sheet with parchment paper if your pan is old or for easier cleanup, but otherwise, it’s not necessary.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together your flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and granulated sugar until just combined, about 60 seconds on medium-low speed.
- In a small bowl, whisk together your pumpkin puree, egg yolk, and vanilla and rum extracts. Pour it into the bowl of creamed butter and sugar, and beat all wet ingredients together on medium-speed until just combined.
- Add your dry ingredients to the bowl and stir on a low setting until just combined. Use a spatula to finish incorporating your dry into your wet ingredients.
- Use an ice cream scoop to place dough onto the cookie sheet – it will be sticky and misshapen.
- Bake for about 14 minutes, or until they bounce back slightly if you touch them.
- Remove from oven and keep them on the baking sheet for about five more minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to fully cool. Shape with cookie cutter or open end of a glass to round them.
Mascarpone espresso frosting:
- Using a chilled mixing bowl and chilled beaters OR chilled bowl of a stand mixer and whisk attachment, whip mascarpone on medium speed for 45 seconds.
- Stop your mixer and add the rum and vanilla extracts, espresso powder, and powdered sugar. Scrape sides and beat frosting about 1 more minute. Watch bowl closely to avoid over-beating, as it will cause the frosting to develop lumps and curdle.
- Bump up your mixer to high speed and slowly drizzle the whipping cream along the side of the bowl. Let your frosting whip up for another 60-90 seconds, until it appears thick, smooth, and creamy. Continue monitoring bowl closely to avoid lumps and curdling.
- Spread or pipe frosting onto cookies.
- Lightly dust the tops of your cookies with cocoa powder or espresso powder for added flavor.
Keywords: fall dessert, tiramisu cookies, pumpkin spice cookies
This recipe was originally published in October of 2021 and updated in November of 2023.