Friday, April 4, 2008

Pecan Praline Cookies

One of the first things we learned in pastry school was how to make praline powder. The praliné of my early lesson is quite different from the very sweet southern candies called pralines. Praline powder is a classical pastry element that is made by caramelizing nuts and grinding them in a food processor. It is used to flavor various creams, fillings and finishings.

I’m using praline powder today to add additional crunch and flavor to a pecan butter cookie made with brown sugar. The caramel builds on the brown sugar taste and the toasted almonds add another source of texture. If you’re in the market for a buttery, nutty, crunchy cookie with a hint of caramel, this is the one.

Bench notes:
- Praline can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. You can use it to flavor hot oatmeal or fold into homemade ice cream.
- To toast pecans, place on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to overdo it or they will taste bitter. They will not look much different but will give off a lovely toasty fragrance.
- Be sure that cookie dough is well chilled before baking so that the cookies hold their shape. You can also roll this into a log and slice and bake.
- Yes, you can dip in chocolate if you must!

Almond Praline

1 C sugar
water to cover
1 C whole almonds

Place sugar in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover it. Bring to a boil and cook without stirring until the caramel reaches the color of light honey. If it begins to only darken in spots, swirl the pan gently to distribute the color.

Turn the heat down to low and add the almonds. Cook for a few minutes, gently stirring with a wooden spoon to be sure the almonds are coated and the mixture is cooking evenly. Be careful not to stir too much or it may crystallize.

When the nuts are toasted and the caramel is a darker honey color, pour out onto a baking sheet pan that is lightly oiled or lined with a silpat. Let it sit for about 30 minutes to cool and harden. Break into pieces and grind to a coarse powder.

Pecan Praline Cookies
Makes 3 dozen cookies

1 C toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
8 oz (2 sticks) butter @ room temp
2/3 C light brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla
1 T rum or brandy
2 C flour
1/4 t salt
1/2 C almond praline powder

Beat butter and sugar until well blended. Add vanilla and rum or brandy.

Combine flour and salt and add to the butter and sugar mixture until it's just beginning to blend. Add pecans and praline powder and mix for a minute. Work the dough with your hands to finish the mixing.

Divide the cookie dough into two pieces and place each on a piece of plastic wrap. Top with another piece of plastic wrap and roll the dough out to 1/4” thickness. Chill until firm or overnight.

Cut out cookies with a 2” cookie cutter. Place on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake @ 350 degrees for 13 minutes.

Cool cookies completely before removing from the pan. They will keep in an airtight container for several days. As if.


Cannelle Et Vanille said...

Yes, you are right... as if!!! I'm with you on that one!!! We used to make similar cookies to these at my last job and I always had to have one everytime they came out of the oven. I love the crunch. Wonderful job with stunning photos once again. As if!!!

test it comm said...

Those look really good!

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmmmmm. Toasted pecans AND almond praline. These sound like heaven.


Cannelle Et Vanille said...

I passed an excellence award on to you at my blog today. check it out.
it's at the end of the post.

Teisha Huff said...

These were incredible... thanks for posting it! I made mine into the shape of acorns, and covered the upper part with chocolate. Perfect for an autumn snack!

pastry studio said...

Teisha, that sounds like a really delicious embellishment! The chocolate would go very well with this cookie. Thanks for your feedback!