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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pecan Pie Cookies

With Independence Day upon us, I thought I might be somewhat cliche and do an apple pie. Of course, the one I decided to do was actually an Alsatian Apple Tart. This classic dessert features apple slices sauteed in butter and sugar then arranged on a pre-baked tart shell. The whole is then smothered with a custard and baked until set and topped with powdered sugar.

Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men... Everything went along wonderfully and the pie had the most delicious scent while baking. At the halfway point I checked on it and to my horror discovered that the custard filling had found a crack in the shell and run out onto my half sheet pan! My beautiful Alsatian Apple Tart was ruined. Oh well, better luck next time. Of course, Michael tested the half baked version before I chucked it in the trash and pronounced it very good! I can only imagine if it had made it all the way through.

So, this afternoon I decided to work on Pecan Pie Cookies. These lovely little cookies combine the flavor of pecan pie with a butter cookie. They're very attractive and quite tasty. Probably the most difficult part of the whole process is the pecan filling which was rather hard to roll into balls in preparation for use on top of the cookies. I finally decided to simply scoop the filling directly onto the cookies rather than trying to form it into little balls ahead of time. I also found that slightly flattening the cookies with a glass dipped in water before baking made it easier for the filling to say in place.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
2 large eggs, separated
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Pecan topping:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tbs. dark corn syrup
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

Beat 1 cup butter with 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add dark corn syrup and egg yolks and beat well. Gradually add flour and beat until just incorporated. Chill dough for 1 hour.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in powdered sugar and 3 tbs. dark corn syrup. Cook, stirring often, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in pecans. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Shape cookie dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Flatten cookie just slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in water. Beat egg whites until foamy and brush on top of each dough ball.

Bake at 375° for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and place 1/4 tsp. of pecan mixture formed into ball in center of each cookie. Return to oven and bake 8-10 minutes more or until lightly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

These cookies may be frozen up to 1 month.
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