Today was a milk and cookies kind of day. I spent the morning baking Ina Garten's foolproof Pecan Sandies and playing Words With Friends. Periodically, I'd stare out the back window into the grey foggy drizzle that's coating New England, then back at the cheery blaze in the kitchen wood stove.
The idea of baking cookies and reheating some chicken noodle soup for a cozy lunch was particularly tempting, as it kept me in the warm kitchen. Must be getting old. I find the warmth far better for my bones than being outside on a day like today!
So, I toasted pecans and ground them up with flour and added Kosher salt and baking powder to make the dry ingredient base for the cookie dough. Soft butter, a generous measure of vanilla extract, and crunchy crystals of demerara sugar whipped to a yellow froth served as a moist counterpart. Mix everything together, roll into balls and press a perfect pecan half into the cookie ball, bake and TRA-LA! Wonderful nutty shortbread cookies with a crunchy sugary bite and toasted nut nibble, to boot!
... there's something so cool about a convex reflection ...
This recipe made two and a half dozen cookies. That's a nice number for a small household, I think.
I also think that these cookies would be awesome with a maple extract added, but that's a project for another rainy day. Here's the recipe, right from Ina Garten's barefoot contessa's FOOLPROOF recipes you can trust .
1 c. pecan halves, toasted for 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven
2 c. flour, divided
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. demerara or turbinado sugar
2 generous tsp. vanilla extract
30 + perfect pecan halves for decorating the cookie tops
Making the Cookies:
1. Beat the softened butter and sugar for a few minutes (use a mixer) until light and fluffy. There will still be crystals evident. That's okay!
2. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating to incorporate.
3. Place the toasted pecans in a food processor bowl with 1/2 c. of the flour measure. Whiz to make a nut powder.
4. Mix the rest of the flour measure, the Kosher salt, and the baking powder in a small bowl. Add the pecan nut powder and whisk together.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
7. Roll rounded teaspoons full of dough into balls the size of walnuts. Press a pecan half into the top of the cookie dough.
8. Place the cookies about two inches apart on the cookie sheets.
9. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cookies are golden and the edges are just browning a bit.
10. Cool on racks and store in a closely covered container.