Friday, November 20, 2009
It’s hard to resist the rich buttery goodness of toasted pecans, especially during the holidays. These cookies are my idea of a cozy pillow of pure pecan luxury nestled inside a light and crumbly cookie. I stick with a few simple natural ingredients so the cookie isn’t too rich or gooey. I think they have just the right measure of sweetness and satisfaction for a deliciously simple but unforgettable little pastry.
This is a very forgiving dough. It comes together quickly in a food processor and after a bit of a rest in the refrigerator, it is very easy to handle even as it warms up at room temperature. The pecan filling doesn’t contain any extra fat and can be prepared in a food processor with just a few pulses.
It's time to bake! This is a dreamy formula for the winter season that will remind you just how much pleasure a cookie platter can bring.
- To toast pecans, spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes, stirring them a couple of times to prevent burning.
- I use a small ice cream scoop #40 (the #40 refers to 40 scoops per quart) to portion the dough. This makes the job very quick and easy.
- For a wonderful and very intriguing walnut version, try Ma'amoul.
1 3/4 C flour
3 T sugar
1/4 t salt
6 oz (12 T) cold butter, cut into small cubes
2 T milk
1 t vanilla
3/4 C toasted pecans
pinch of salt
3 T brown sugar
2 T + 2 t honey
scant 1/4 t cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
1/4 t vanilla
To prepare the dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a processor and mix. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is in pieces the size of small grain rice. Combine milk and vanilla and add to the flour butter mixture. Pulse just until the mixture starts to clump. Remove and place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap. Pull it together to finish blending and smoothing out. Pat it into a circle about 1” think, wrap and refrigerate to rest for a couple of hours or overnight.
Place the pecans, salt, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and orange zest in the bowl of a processor and pulse just a few times to chop the pecans into smallish pieces and blend the ingredients. Don’t over process. You want small pieces but not paste. Pour into a bowl and add vanilla. Stir to combine.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for a bit just until it's malleable.
To shape the cookie dough, portion into 18 pieces and shape each into a ball that is about 1 1/2” in diameter. Take each portion and push your thumb in to form a cup for the filling. Continue to press it out with your thumbs to form a somewhat flattened open pocket about 2 3/4” in diameter. Place about a good half-teaspoon of filling in the center. Gather the ends and press them together to seal the cookie. Roll gently in your palms to even out the shape and place seam side down on a small parchment lined tray. Press the top of the cookie gently to flatten slightly and shape. Wrap the formed cookies with plastic and refrigerate until completely chilled.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or silpat for about 20 to 25 minutes. The cookies should not take on any color but the bottoms will brown a bit. When they are done, they will move easily without any resistance when nudged with your fingertip. Cool on a wire rack. Dust lightly with powdered sugar.