Tag Archives: pecans

Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013: Portland

11 Dec

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Ever since last year’s Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, when I made cherry-almond and chocolate-walnut combo cookies, I’ve been fixated on the idea (and the ease) of sliced cookies.

So for this year’s swap, I decided to try out a simple sliced cookie that I loved eating as a kid: pecan sandies. (And yes, that’s cookie fabric that my sandies are sitting on — just couldn’t resist.) I remember associating pecan sandies with the holidays because my mom’s parents always had the Keebler variety when we visited their house in Omaha, Neb.

I can’t speak for Hannah, but I’m beginning to get used to the cookie swap being part of my annual holiday traditions at the beginning of December. Every year I feel like I get a little better with my cookie technique, and experimenting with different recipes keeps things interesting. Plus, it’s always fun to see what other bloggers are up to and to send out some festive packages across the country.

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Because I like to consider myself somewhat of a traditionalist, I always venture to the library in early November to uncover some holiday cookie inspiration. “Christmas Cookies: 50 Recipes to Treasure for the Holiday Season” ended up having just what I was looking for. The author even gave suggestions of what cookies mailed well, so that was helpful when narrowing down what recipe to tackle. Another book that featured non-holiday sliced cookie recipes also caught my eye (“Slice & Bake Cookies: Fast Recipes from your Refrigerator or Freezer”), and it had several ideas for savory cookies, something I’d never much considered.

The recipe is essentially butter, sugar, 1 egg, flour and toasted pecans. If I had to pick an Internet recipe to replicate, I’d try Smitten Kitchen’s bite-size sandies. On to the baking.

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First of all, toasting pecans makes one’s house smell wonderful, and I’d make these cookies again just for that benefit. My particular recipe called for 3/4 cup of pecans, which is significantly less than other recipes specified, but the trick here is to grind them with a food processor so the pieces are spread throughout the cookie. I liked this method better, as opposed to having large chunks of pecans. It’s more reminiscent of the cookie I grew up eating, and it has a more uniform pecan flavor.

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As usual, first step was to cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg. The pecans waited in the wings until they were cooled from their toasting.

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After incorporating the flour, which even at less than 2 cups always seems like too much, I formed them into two rolls, and they went into the refrigerator for several hours. I often make cookie dough the night (or weekend) before I actually intend to bake the cookies so I can plan my time a bit better.

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When I cut them up into 1/4- to 1/3-inch cookies, I could tell they had flattened out on the bottom a bit, and I haven’t figured out a way to prevent that from happening.

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As you can see, some cookie cuts were straighter than others.

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About 15 minutes in the oven, and they were golden brown and crispy. (Side note: I upgraded my cookie sheet this year in anticipation of making more cookies this year and next. And it made quite a bit of difference as far as consistent baking.)

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My packaging involved a couple Ziploc bags (holiday-themed, of course), and some newspaper (which I have in abundance). Here’s who got my cookies:

And the cookies I received were all wonderful! Because there’s no reason one person should eat three dozen cookies, I made sure to share with friends at a tree-trimming party.

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First were lemon-glazed cookies from Sheryl of Mama’s Gotta Bake. Nothing I like better than a good lemon cookie.

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Next were date pinwheels from Jessica of Kettler Cuisine, which win most inventive cookie that I received.

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Last were brownie drops from Mercedes of Satisfy My Sweet Tooth.

And of course there were Hannah’s lovely sugar cookies, which I especially enjoyed with a nice cup of peppermint Christmas tea.

I’m so glad I’ve had the chance to participate in this wonderful swap for the past three years, and thanks to all (especially Julie and Lindsay) for making it so much fun.

Hopefully I’ll have more cookie adventures (namely gingerbread) to report soon.

Happy baking, and happy holidays!

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King Cake: Denver

4 Apr

Whelp. I hate to start my post out with this admission: I didn’t really like my creation, this time around. I ventured off Nora’s beaten path and sought my own recipe, eventually settling on one which I found on Epicurious. The filling was a magical mix of pecans and bourbon found on this Food Network recipe.  I’m not sure if it was my chosen recipe, the altitude in Denver, or just my poor cooking that caused the downfall of this cake. Maybe it was a combination of the three.  It just came out very, very dry – more on this as we go along. However, I ate the filling with a spoon while I stuffed the cake The filing was very good.

I followed my recipe to the tee – however, even just as I mixed the flour mixture into the wet ingredients, it seemed too dry. I was concerned about this, as it didn’t seem moist enough to even rise, but I kept going because I’ve never made a King Cake before (or even eaten King Cake before).  Here my dough is, all mixed together.

Lo and Behold, it did rise, but not nearly as much as I thought it would:

It was still very dense at this point. Uh oh, I thought.  I punched it down and preheated my oven.  The dough still seemed dry. And tough. F***********, I thought.  Because I wanted my cake to be filled (and my Epicurious recipe just braided the dough), I made my filling (MMM) and rolled my dough into a blob rectangle.

In the filling went!

Then, I rolled my cake back up, like a jellyroll, and shaped it into a circle. Kind of. As you can tell, by this point, my cake seemed like a comedy of errors to me. So, I went with it. I cut some strips into the cake to vent/add some semblance of aesthetic quality, and into the oven it went.

While it baked, I got excited about using my Mardi Gras colored sugar, which I bought ultra-cheap at the grocery store. I have a ton of green, purple, and gold sanding sugar now, so even if this cake was a wash, I consider this a serious win.

I whipped up some powdered sugar/milk glaze and iced my cake. SANDING SUGAR!

Unfortunately, when we bit into it, the cake was ultra-dry. Like, cement-in-your-mouth, get-me-a-glass-of-milk dry.  Maybe it’s because I’m not Catholic. It looked (kind of) pretty, though.  At least there’s that.