May 27, 2012

Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter pecan ice cream is an iconic summer treat, but it is sticky and messy when it melts. I decided to make a cookie with all of the flavor but none of the mess. The cookies are nutty and buttery, and they satisfy both soft cookie lovers and crunchy cookie lovers. They can be a bit tricky to bake because they are best when they are crispy but still tender, but the result is definitely worth it! One technique I use is rolling the dough into a slab and cutting it into rounds instead of scooping the dough into balls. This ensures identical size and thickness.

Each bite is full of pecans because they are ground into the sugar, infused in the butter, mixed into the dough, and placed on top of the cookies. The pecan sugar is similar to almond flour in that it is very fine, almost dusty, but tastes just like pecans/almonds.

The pecan butter is the best way to make sure the pecan flavor permeates the entire cookie without using more nut pieces. Of course, you do want some chunks of pecans, so I like to stir some in. I also top the cookies with a pecan half because it adds a lot of crunch and just looks pretty.

This is an ideal recipe for summer, especially Memorial Day weekend, because it tastes like the butter pecan ice cream we all know and love, but you don't have to worry about melting ice cream. These buttery, nutty cookies are simply delicious!

1 1/2 Cups Chopped Pecans
35 Pecan Halves
1 3/4 Sticks Butter
1/2 Cup Oil
3 Cups Flour
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/8 tsp Salt

Combine the chopped pecans and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes or until browned. Pour into a sieve over a bowl. Set the pecans aside. Freeze the butter, stirring occasionally, until firm but not hard.

Pulse the chilled butter, oil, 2 1/2 cups flour, powdered sugar, and ¾ cup pecans in a food processor until fine; set aside.

Pulse the remaining pecans and the brown sugar until ground. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. Stir into the flour mixture; knead until smooth. Add the remaining flour and chill until firm, about an hour.

Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie trays with parchment.

Roll the dough out to about ¼" thick. Cut into 2" rounds. Transfer to the baking sheets and top each with a pecan half. Chill until cold, about 10 minutes. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just golden.

Makes 35
Recipe Adapted from Nancy Baggett

May 11, 2012

Sticky Buns

These treats will make your house smell SO good. Waves of fragrant cinnamon, sweet caramel, and toasty pecans fill the kitchen, and the scent makes this delectable breakfast taste even better! First of all, it's important to distinguish between cinnamon buns and sticky buns. Sure, cinnamon buns are delicious, but they are much better when you bake them in gooey caramel and drown them in liquid pecan praline. I make them in individual muffin cups instead of cramming the buns into one tin because each one has some crunchiness, and you don't have to worry about unrolling them when you pull them apart. These are perfect for Mother's Day brunch because you don't have to get up really early in the morning to cook an elaborate breakfast; you can do everything the night before, stick them in the refrigerator after the second rise, and bake them in the morning. It's the best Mother's Day present your mom will ever get!

3 Eggs
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 1/4 tsp + pinch Salt
2 1/4 tsp Yeast
4 1/4 Cups Flour
6 T Butter, Melted but Cool
9 T Butter
3 T Butter, Melted
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 3/4 Cups Light Brown Sugar
6 T Corn Syrup
2 T Heavy Cream
1 tsp Vanilla
3/4 Cup Chopped Pecans, Toasted

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk the eggs to combine. Add buttermilk. Whisk in the sugar, salt, and yeast. Add two cups of flour and 6T melted butter. Beat until just combined, then add in remaining flour. Knead with the dough hook for five minutes. Knead by hand for one minute

Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area for 2-3 hours.

Meanwhile, combine 6T butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3T corn syrup, heavy cream, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until bubbling, then divide between the cups of a greased muffin tin.

Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Roll the dough into a 16"x12" rectangle and brush with the 3T melted butter. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar, roll into a cylinder, and cut into 12 buns.

Place the buns into the cups. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free area for 2-3 hours.

Heat oven to 350F and adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Bake the buns for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine 3T butter, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3T corn syrup, and a pinch of salt in a medium skillet. Cook until bubbling and the butter is melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and pecans.

When the buns are finished cooking, invert onto a rimmed cookie tray. Place a spoonful of pecan topping on each bun.

Makes 12
Recipe Adapted from Cook's Illustrated