Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Yes, Pecan!

If Ben and Jerry hadn't already used this name to honor President Obama with their butter pecan ice cream, I'd have taken it to name the best cookie I've made in a month of Sundays.

I found this recipe while trying to duplicate a cookie I had at, of all unlikely places, Starbucks - it was big and flat and buttery and full of pecans and little toffee chips - heaven in cookie format! I downloaded a recipe that sounded about right - it wasn't, but in some ways it's even better.

These delectable morsels have all the best ingredients - serious animal fat in the form of unsalted butter, refined sugar (two kinds!), toffee candy, white flour, whole eggs - in short, these are very, very bad for your heart, your waistline and your pocketbook.

They are very, very good, however, on the taste buds. If you like toffee and pecans, these are a must. They are sweetly nutty but not sickly sweet, they have some texture from the chunked toffee bars and nuts, and they are ever so slightly chewy, especially if you take them out before they are truly browned. Even though I don't usually like baking cookies, I will be volunteering to make these for any and all subsequent meetings, weddings, coffee hours, birthday parties, anniversaries, bar mitzvahs, commitment ceremonies, wakes, whatever! Try 'em and see what you think.

The basic recipe comes from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle, 2002. The only adaptation I made, other than some tweaks to the technique, is to substitute cracked Heath bar pieces for the pre-made English toffee bits in the recipe; I had read in the comments that the pre-made toffee bits don't give enough of a toffee flavor so I searched until I found Heath bars and gently cracked them with a hammer before unwrapping them. It wasn't a lot of work (except finding them! Locally, you can buy them at Andronico's markets but don't bother trying Long's or Target) and the rich toffee flavor is very evident when you use the cracked candy. The texture produced by the uneven chunks of candy is more interesting as well.

Toffee Pecan Cookies (makes about 6 dozen)

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (this works out to a stick and a half of butter, or 12 Tablespoons)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups English toffee pieces such as Skor or Heath (I recommend using Heath Bars. about 7 bars makes two cups of pieces)
1-3/4 cups pecans, toasted and chopped (I didn't toast mine - I'm famous for burning nuts while toasting)

Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. (I used parchment paper and no spray - worked like a champ!)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (I don't have one so just used my hand-held mixer) using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars at medium-high speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract. At this point the dough will look curdled or grainy. At low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the toffee and pecans.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls (I used my smallest sorbet scoop) onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 14 - 16 minutes, until the cookies are starting to turn golden brown around the edges (I did two at once - so sue me, I'm impatient!). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then carefully transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Ms. Boyle says the recipe makes 48 cookies - mine must have been smaller as I got 6 dozen.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

I found these to be much tastier cool than they were immediately out of the oven. Yes, yes, yes Pecan! (and Toffee!)

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Blogger Anna Haight said...

Ohhh these sound luscious! And I was wondering what I was going to do with that 99cent unsalted butter I snagged at Safeway this weekend.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Anna, now you know!

Thursday, March 05, 2009  

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