Any recipe that starts with “butter” can only be awesome. Add in pecans and you’ve hit cookie nirvana. I got turned on to the idea of making a pecan cookie last week when my friend over at Rumbly in My Tumbly made some Pecan Sandies. I always get great ideas from her and the cookies looked delicious, but they were a rolled dough and since I just made some rolled cookies a couple of days ago, I was looking for something that wouldn’t require me busting out my big red rolling-pin again. I have a Costco sized bag of pecans sitting in my baking cupboard just begging to be used and this recipe sounded just perfect. A butter filled, airy pecan delight.
At first glance, I thought this recipe looked amazing. Then I read some reviews complaining that the dough is crumbly and hard to work with. I decided the reason for the discouraged bakers was the lack of realistic expectations for this cookie dough. It is most certainly not your typical batch of cookies, but the finished product is buttery and light filled with pecan goodness bursting from every nook and cranny. If you know that your dough looks just as it should, you won’t feel you’ve messed up the cookies. Power thru. They are fantastic.
Be sure to chop your pecans fairly finely. I use a mini-food processor (which I love for nuts!). They don’t have to be pulverized completely, but at least as fine as this.
You may notice that there’s no egg in the recipe. This is not a mistake. Because there’s no egg to bind the dough together, room temperature butter is essential. If the butter is even a little cool still, your dough isn’t going to have the stickiness it needs to shape into balls. Even with the correctly warmed butter, your dough will be crumbly. Like wet sand sort of. This is how it should look. Resist the temptation to continue mixing the dough.
Don’t worry!! It looks like there’s no way you’ll be able to get a cookie out of those crumbles, but once you shape it with your (clean) hands and press it into a ball, it will hold together.
Actually, I wasn’t sure exactly the best way to divide a crumbly dough into 12 pieces as the recipe says. So I used a medium cookie scoop/melon baller to portion out the dough, then shaped the balls with my hands.
It ended up being exactly the right size – made one dozen precisely. After they’re rolled in sugar they look like pixie dusted dough balls.
Flatten gently into a disk. If you get craggly sides, just press them back together lightly.
These get several sprinklings of sugar and come out of the oven with a sweet crunch baked into the outside and a rich buttery nutty packed interior.
You’ll only get 12 cookies out of this batch, but it can be easily doubled for more buttery pecan goodness.
Butter Pecan Cookies
(from Martha Stewart)
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for coating
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Preheat oven to 350°. On a baking sheet, toast pecans until fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool completely; finely chop.
2 With an electric mixer, cream butter for about a minute. Add 1/3 cup sugar and cream until light, about 1 minute more. Beat in vanilla, salt, and flour, scraping down sides of bowl, just until dough comes together. Fold in pecans.
3 Separate dough into 12 pieces; squeeze dough to shape into balls. Roll in sugar. Place, 3 inches apart, on a baking sheet.
4 Gently flatten with the bottom of a glass (reshape sides if necessary). Sprinkle with sugar.
5 Bake until golden brown, rotating sheet halfway through, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with more sugar. Cool cookies on a wire rack.