Wednesday, January 7, 2009
New Orleans Praline Disks
I got three new baking books for Christmas, but so far the Nick Malgieri one is the only one to get me really excited about various recipes. Maybe it's all the pictures... there are a lot of recipes that sound good in the Sweet Melissa book that I will make eventually, but the pictures keep drawing me back into the Malgieri book.
Well, that and these cookies just sounded really good. Lots of butter, brown sugar and pecans baked into round, flat cookies that are still chewy. um... yes please.
I ended up playing a bit with the final appearance of these. The book has you flatten the top of the cookies after scooping the dough with a small disher and then sprinkling some of the 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans on top. I found that kind of annoying so I started rolling my cookie dough into the dough, then flattening them out. The advantage was more pecan to cookie ratio, the disadvantage was that I ran out of chopped pecans and didn't feel like digging the food processor out yet again, so for the final round of cookies I simply pressed a half pecan on top.
When I make these again (yes, they are definitely good enough to repeat) I think I will toast all the pecans before chopping them up. I was a bit surprised that he didn't have you toast them in the recipe considering almost everyone who bakes on a regular basis (including me) knows that toasting nuts before using them almost always improves the flavor quite a lot. The other thing I might consider doing is melting some semi-sweet chocolate and drizzling it over the top of the final cookies. The finished cookies don't need the extra oomph of chocolate, because they are quite good on their own, but I think it would be a nice addition if I feel like messing with it.
1 3/4 cups pecan pieces
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1 large egg
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375 and line cookie sheets with parchment or silpats.
Place 1/2 cup of the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are finely chopped, but not ground to powder. Set them aside. Combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups of pecans with 1/2 cup of the brown sugar in the food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground.
Combine the butter, the remaining brown sugar, and the pecan and sugar mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with the paddle on medium speed until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat just until smooth. Do not overbeat.
Decrease the speed to low and add the flour. Continue beating until the flour is just mixed in. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to give a final stir to the dough.
Roll a round teaspoonful of the dough (a tiny disher is excellent here) between the palms of your hands to make a little sphere. Place it on one of the prepared pans. Continue with the remaining dough, keeping the cookies about 2 inches apart on all sides. Use a fingertip to flatten the spheres of dough slightly and sprinkle them with the reserved chopped pecans.
Bake the wafers until they spread and become brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets about halfway through to ensure even baking.