My boyfriend’s going to Africa. Did I mention that? Oh yeah. For like five weeks. And sure, I mean, it’s with his grad school program not like an Iron Man-style walkabout (oh wait; that’s Australia…whoops), but c’mon…Africa’s kinda far away.
So clearly, the thing to do when one’s significant other is departing for a foreign country is to make them cookies.
I call these Pecan Cinnamandies–they’re based on a bunch of recipes for Pecan Sandies I found, but I added some spiciness and went for a more cake-like cookie by using cream of tartar in addition to baking soda, as well as an egg and vanilla.
Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for even a little while, you know that I love sweet things. The only dessert that has ever come close to being too overpoweringly sugary for me is Cold Stone, and that’s only in recent years (I suppose my palate is starting to refine? Or maybe I’m just becoming a wuss). So I feel it is my duty as an ambassador for the diabetic-coma-inducing to let you know that these cookies have a much more subtle flavor than the baked goods I usually do.
The pecans are definitely the star of the show as far as these cookies are concerned. They lend a crunchy, buttery quality to the cookie base, which I described to Middle Chip as almost a cross between a sugar cookie and a shortbread. Nut-lovers will rejoice–rather than their beloved walnuts or almonds or, as in this case, pecans, being overshadowed by chocolate chunks and candy bar pieces and all of the other flashy sassy stuff I’m accustomed to throwing in cookies, the beauty of these cinnamandies is their simplicity. You’re eating the cookie for the pecans, and each bite is a nutty reminder of that.
So, dear pecan fans, I hope that you will embrace these cookies and give them a home in your kitchens. The Africa-bound’s first words, upon biting into one? “Fluffy. Pecan-y. Delicious.”
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling (if desired)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 1 tbsp
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted (see below)
For toasty pecan goodness:*
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Roughly chop pecans until you have one cup’s worth.
3. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a small pan. Toss chopped pecans in melted butter to coat.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick foil (I used foil; we were out of parchment paper) and spread pecans out in a single layer.
5. Toast pecans in the oven for about 6 minutes, stopping to turn them with a spatula halfway through. Remove from oven and let cool.
*A big thanks to Amber at Bluebonnets & Brownies for encouraging me to toast up the pecans before baking! Her Southern gal expertise–to say nothing of her culinary expertise in general–was very much appreciated.
For the cookies:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, cream of tartar, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
3. In another bowl, cream butter with brown sugar and powdered sugar until fully incorporated (that is, no chunks of butter or clumps of sugar remain–when I was starting out, I never knew exactly what to interpret “fully incorporated” to mean).
4. Stir in egg and vanilla extract. The cookie batter will be pretty sticky–never fear. It also smells like Thanksgiving thanks to the nutmeg and cinnamon, which was a delightful surprise on a sticky June night.
5. Fold in the pecans, making sure to stir them in completely. You don’t want half of your cookies to be nut-filled and the other half to be empty! (Or maybe you do…in which case, ignore me.)
6. Form dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter and arrange on a cookie sheet (lined or greased if that’s your fancy–ours is ancient and for some reason, completely nonstick. I have no idea why. Cookies legitimately just pop off like magic. I’m convinced it’s the influence of my ancestors or something). Optional: sprinkle cinnamon on the top of each cookie dough ball, as in the photo above. I did this with my second batch and it tasted (and looked!) awesome.
7. Bake for about 9 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden brown. Remove cookie sheet from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before transferring cookies to wire racks to cool completely.