Food allergies have always played a part in our family’s diets. My mom originally had the most, which she discovered after multiple rounds of allergy testing a while ago, ranging from tomatoes and sweet peppers to walnuts and shellfish. I had the least, with just a handful of allergies. (You’ll never see any recipes with mushrooms, avocado, shrimp, or water chestnuts appear on the blog!)
However, in the past few years, my brother’s allergy list slowly grew. It started with cantaloupe and bananas, then branched out to lettuce, oranges, and watermelon. Last year, he discovered a severe allergy to eggs, as well as becoming lactose intolerant. Poor guy!
As a result, birthdays and celebrations changed a bit. It’s practically impossible to purchase any desserts from the store since everything revolves around eggs and dairy.
When we tried to pick up a treat for my dad’s family birthday dinner in September, four of us meticulously read through the ingredients labels on all of the cakes, crumbles, and pies in Safeway’s bakery department. We literally scoured every shelf until we found an egg-free dessert my brother could eat!
This Thanksgiving, I’m tweaking a few things on the dessert menu. Along with the traditional pumpkin and pecan pies (a requirement for my parents and me!), I wanted to bake something special for my brother, without any eggs or dairy, so he could still enjoy a sweet treat to finish the feast.
After some thought and creativity in the kitchen, I came up with these Pumpkin Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies! They’re sweet, indulgent, and seriously addictive. I scarfed down two as soon as I finished photographing them!
Let’s start with the cookies. Pumpkin cookies are prone to being cakey instead of chewy. This is because pumpkin purée adds a lot of moisture to the cookie dough. Eggs add lots of moisture too, so to compensate for the pumpkin, I completely omitted the eggs. Since the pumpkin purée also provides structure like eggs, you can’t even tell. Perfect for my brother!
When you first mix up the cookie dough, you’ll probably stare at the bowl and think, “Oh my gosh, is Amy crazy?? How am I supposed to get 26 cookies out of this small amount of dough?”
Trust me, I called myself insane at first too!
However, after rolling out the cookie dough into 26 small balls, we’ll flatten them on the baking sheet to about the diameter of an Oreo cookie, if not slightly larger. Because of this, they end up looking bigger than you first imagined!
Because they’re thin, we only bake the cookies for a few minutes. Just like with almost all of my cookie recipes, we’ll underbake them by a tiny bit, then let them sit on the warm baking sheet to cool.
It’s extremely important to slightly underbake these because we’ll actually store the sandwich cookies in the refrigerator due to the cream cheese in the filling. The cookies stiffen when chilled, so you don’t want to overbake them and dry them out. That would result in rock-hard cookies!
The cheesecake filling is incredibly simple: just soy cream cheese, sugar, and a touch of vanilla. I opted to use Toffutti cream cheese because it contained the least amount of fat and calories of the soy cream cheeses I saw at the store, but any brand will work. Because the filling is completely dairy-free (and vegan too!), I’m pretty certain my brother and I would fight over who got to lick the beaters!
Tip: Use clear vanilla extract for the cheesecake filling to preserve the bright white color. I’ve found this kind in Walmart on their wedding aisle. It comes in a large 8 oz brown bottle and is fairly cheap!
When we sit down for our Thanksgiving feast later this month, I guarantee we’ll end up with twice as many leftovers of the savory dishes compared to previous years. With how indulgent these Pumpkin Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies taste, everyone will be saving room for dessert… And they just might become more traditional in our household than pumpkin pie!
The Soyfoods Council is celebrating a #SoyInspired Thanksgiving with a giveaway certain to make holiday entertaining easier: a $200 Williams Sonoma gift card! Enter here: https://www.facebook.com/thesoyfoodscouncil/app_228910107186452