brown butter pumpkin seed cookies

As a kid, I was partial to chewy cookies. I remember the warm oatmeal raisin ones my parents used to buy at a bakery somewhere near Little Italy. One of these days I’ll also remember to ask my mother where that bakery was exactly, though I imagine it is long shuttered by now.

My current cookie obsession has been baking thin crispy ones, the kind that benefit from a dunk in tea or coffee. I set out recently to create a new cookie of this—well, let’s call it genre. Everything was going well, at first. I used this recipe as a base for my proportions. Except I made some tweaks, because I can’t leave well enough alone. This is the best attribute a recipe developer can have—reckless abandon in the kitchen. Okay, so maybe deciding to brown the butter instead of simply melt it wasn’t a revolutionary or reckless idea (except for my waistline), but you get what I’m talking about. Setting out to create a new recipe comes with the understanding that failure is a distinct possibility.

Or maybe not.

See, developing recipes is a good primer for handling life’s little (and sometimes not so little) curveballs. Sometimes you start off on one road, and find you’ve jumped a rail, and are suddenly on a path you didn’t intend. Sometimes that path is a good one, so long as you’re open to seeing life in a new light.

I know, this is so philosophical for a little cookie. Cookies are obviously serious business around here!

That cookie you see below, well I was ready to write it off. Dump the batch and head back to the drawing board, and that was just from a peek in the oven halfway through the baking time. My goal was a thin, crisp brown butter pumpkin seed cookie. Those puffy domes you see are not what I wanted, they were not part of my plan as I set about measuring and mixing.

As with every recipe, though, I took a taste test. I wanted to see if I was on track with the flavor combination, at least. What happened next truly surprised me. This little cookie, while it may not have looked at all as I intended, tasted better than I could’ve ever imagined.

So, sometimes when the path you’re on doesn’t seem right it’s worth taking a few more steps, maybe even leaps. You may end up finding what you’re looking for when you least expect it.

brown butter pumpkin seed cookies

makes 12

I brought a little bag of these to school pick up, and doled them out to a few mom friends. One commented that it was so nice to eat a “grown up” cookie, and I understood exactly what she meant. After making one too many batches of chocolate chip cookies lately, I was craving something with an adult twist. This cookie really strikes a balance, though, because my little taste testers loved it just as much too.

If you’re wondering what I think could turn these into the thin, crispy cookie I originally intended, my first hunch is to cut back some of the flour. Not much, but rest assured that even though I love the way these taste, I’ll probably continue to tinker with them in the future. After all, you can never have too many cookie recipes.

Music Pairing: ‘Deed I Do by Diana Krall

1 stick (4 ounces/112 grams) butter, browned & cooled

3/4 cup (115 grams) packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (161 grams) whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda

1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) fine sea salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup (74 grams) pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Add the butter to a small pot over medium heat. Cook until the butter is melted, a deep golden color, and little browned bits begin to appear. Pour the butter into a heat-safe bowl and let it cool until barely warm, about 30 minutes. You can alternately leave it in the pot too, but it will take longer to cool down.

Meanwhile, add the flour, baking soda, salt and cloves to a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

Add the cooled butter and sugar to a deep mixing bowl. Beat until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg, and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the flour mixture to the bowl. On low speed, mix until the flour is completely mixed in, about 1 minute. Add the pumpkin seeds and beat on medium high speed 30 seconds to 1 minute, until well mixed.

Drop heaping rounds of dough (2 tablespoons worth), three inches apart on the prepared baking sheets (you should be able to fit six on each sheet). Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, until the edges are golden and the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.


  • Melissa

    Hi Jennie…Just a quick question – I love to bake and want to start making up my own cakes and cookies for my family. How do you know the proportions you need when you make your own recipe? Are there any good resources that talk about this? I’m good at making my own soups, sauces, etc. but the baking proportions scare me so I always follow recipes…. but that has gotten boring:) Thanks for any input you can give!

  • Tracey A

    Good Morning Jennie,
    Yes our life often gets tweaked, sometimes we have to do it, sometimes it just happens. Anyway, it can be disturbing.I am having one of those moments at my job. Someone threw me under the bus and I am trying to get my way out from under it! (also am trying to get the knife out of my back as well) Wish me luck today, have a meeting with the big boss…It is sad when you are falsely accused, eh?
    Keep up the good work, in all areas of your life. I AM truly proud of you. You have come a long way and should be very proud of yourself.
    Hugs, rainbows and many touches from heaven,

  • joan murray

    Yay, a small batch of cookies recipe. I ‘ll have to try this one. And I won’t feel too guilty if I just happen to eat them all (over the span of several days)!

  • Hannah

    As a chewy cookie lover, will definitely give these delicious looking curveballs a try:)..intrigued by using just cloves the usual cinnamon etc partners.

  • Laura

    Jennie – I was thinking of you today, as most days. These cookies look amazing. I don’t really do pumpkin seeds, but I’m going to a pumpkin-carving party tomorrow, so I might have to save some back and give this receipe a shot. <3 Thanks as always.

  • Jodi

    I made these and they turned out wonderfully. They aren’t puffy at all, but look like the perfect cookie. Thanks for a fun, new recipe!

  • Stefanie

    Making these now and hoping there will still be some left when our friends pop in tonight. I only do chewy cookies:) And these, with the pepitas and brown butter..wild! Happy Halloween!

  • rachel alexander

    thanks for your thoughts. even though i have not suffered the same loss as you have, i have still jump a rail or i have been rather pushed of my rails. either way, the joy i have found in being on my own again is the last thing i expected from my divorce. it has left me dumbstruck at times. Also, i cant eat chocolate or nuts, so i’m always on the lookout for cookie recipes with alternate things like seeds. Thanks again. you will never know impact your honest words have made on the world.

  • Ann

    These do sound delicious to me as well. I am intrigued by your last sentence. I’m going to bake these soon.

  • Samael

    It might be years since you posted this – but I would like to thank you for this recipe.

    It rid me of the 100 grams of pumpkin seeds I took from my very first carved pumpkin (we don’t celebrate halloween here, yet I decided to do a carving anyway), it taught me the wonders of browned butter, it got me buying my first pack of baking soda (you can’t even get it at normal stores here – only at oriental stores) and I got a new base cookie recipe to experiment with.

    I usually make the crumbly kind – although I make a great semi-caramelized hard sugary type too – but it’s great to have a chewy cookie recipe.

    I think my batch turned out a bit larger than intended, though – I only got 8 cookies out of the recipe, despite adding a bit more sugar than indicated – I supose my table spoons are larger than yours are.

    Anyway – thanks!

  • Jennifer Perillo

    I’m so glad yo liked this recipe Sam! Thanks for leaving such a thoughtful note. —Jennie