Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pecan Pie Cookies

A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to make pecan pancakes, but then completely forgot about it. This is not surprising at all since I sometimes think I have the memory of a goldfish. I still had a bag of pecans lying around, so I began searching for other pecan recipes. I stumbled upon this cute pecan pie cookies and decided I'd give them a try. They looked like a great autumn dessert so I gave them a test run at our family friend's dinner party. I had already made a lime pie as one of the desserts, as well as rugelach pinwheels, but I figured another batch of cookies wouldn't hurt. These cookies were a hit, even among the picky eaters. The brown sugar in the filling and dough is delicious and the pecans add a great crunchy contrast to the otherwise soft baked cookie.

After years of making desserts for the holidays and dinner parties, I've realized that after a big dinner, people always go for the bite sized desserts. Mini cupcakes or cookies, for example, make great little treats and are always picked up off the dessert table. While pies and cakes get eaten too, people tend not to take a sneaky second round since they're not as easy to grab as an individual dessert. Of course, if you're sitting in front of the cake, it's hard to resist. I've definitely gone back for multiple rounds of cakes when they are placed in front of me, putting me in an instant food coma.

If you're looking for a fun, new cookie this holiday season, give these a try. They last 3 days without drying out if you keep the covered, so you can easily make these ahead of time. The pecan filling is so good that I ate the leftovers from this recipe out of the bowl. I found that the dough for these cookies was pretty sticky, making it difficult to leave a thumb imprint in the rounded cookie pieces. I accidentally discovered that when my finger was coated with some of the liquids from the pecan mix, I didn't have any problems with stickiness. The liquid from the pecans acted as a greasy coating that allowed me to easily reshape the cookie dough rounds.

Recipe from Land O'Lakes
Makes 3 dozen

For the Cookie:

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the Filling:
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350ºF/175ºC. Line cookie sheets with silicone mats, or leave ungreased.

To make the cookie dough, combine the brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a bowl. Mix until creamy at medium speed. Lower the speed and add the flour and baking powder. Mix until combined.

If you find the dough too sticky to work with at this time, which I did, place it in the fridge until it becomes firmer.

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling and set aside. Roll the dough into 1 1/4" balls. Space cookies 2" apart. Using your thumb, make an indent into the cookie, rotating your thumb around to form a circular indent. If your thumb sticks to the dough too much, dip it into the liquids from the pecan mix, then proceed to make your indents.
Fill each cookie with a rounded teaspoon of filling. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then remove from cookie sheet. If using a silicone mat (which I suggest), allow them to cool on the mat so they are less fragile when you move them. 
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