Brrr...it's 19 degrees outside. I just came in from Christmas shopping. It's definitely time for some hot chocolate and pecan crunch cookies.
I made up the recipe last week while tinkering around with a stack of spices I picked up on my last visit to Montreal. This is the perfect cookie for a late afternoon snack or early evening break.
Speaking of shopping, I made the mistake of going into a giant chain store and it "almost" destroyed my Christmas spirit. Blaring music, bad air quality, mounds and piles distasteful and poorly made junk represent a few of the things that made me grumpy. And the behavior of some of the shoppers - definitely not warm and festive. I grabbed the one item I needed and headed out the door.
This is why, whenever possible, I shop locally. I love visiting small, independent businesses in my region - mainly because they put their heart and soul into what they're doing. They're more likely to carry unique items and the items are generally of better quality.
Moreover, I feel good about putting dollars back into my community. When I shop locally, I know I'm helping a local business stay open, supporting local jobs and reducing the risk that multinational chain stores will take over my town.
Seriously, who wouldn't rather have a thoughtful gift from here, here, here, or here, for example. And with events like this and this, how can I lose?
What about you? Will you join me in supporting independent businesses this year?
Hopefully by now, you're fired up and ready to shop. Just be sure to have these cookies ready and waiting for you when you get home. They're perfect way to kick back, relax and be cozy....
Pecan Crunch Cookie
2 tbs. butter
1 tbs. dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cupped chopped pecans
1/3 cup coarsely chopped candied orange peel (optional but really good)
1 tbs. butter, softened
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbs. butter
1 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 beaten egg white
2 tbs. sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
To make the filling, evenly chop the pecans. Melt 2 tbs. of butter in a non-stick skillet and add pecans. When the pecans are uniformly warm, sprinkle them with 1 tbs. brown sugar. Increase heat and stir until slightly caramelized. Remove the pecans from the heat and spread them evenly on a silpat to cool.
When the pecans have cooled, place about 1/2 of them along with the orange peel and 1 tbs. butter in a food processor and blend until you have a chunky, coarse filling for your cookie. I like to save the leftover pecans for these.
Mix dry ingredients and set aside.
In a standing mixer cream the butter. Mix in sugar and blend until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl.
Attach a dough hook to the mixture. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Alternatively, you can do this by hand.
Using floured hands, spread out the cookie dough onto a silpat into an approximately 12X4 inch rectangle. Place as much filling as you'd like down the center of the dough. Fold the sides of the dough into cover the filling. Fold up the ends so that you have a log. Pinch the seams tight. Flip the log over so that the seams are on the bottom. Slice the dough diagonally, into about 1/2 inch slices.
(Note: I've also been told by a reader that these turn out well when you mix up all of the ingredients in a bowl and make drop cookies out of them. Good to know.)
Lay the slices flat on a cookie sheet. Brush edges with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the sheet pan and bake for about 5 additional minutes.
Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.