You’ve heard it before, many times in fact. Like many of my fellow blog colleagues I’m not a baker, I’m not much for sweets and I’m astonished at how many food holidays are devoted to desserts. (Little wonder we have an obesity problem in North America.) And with this in the distant recesses of my mind I have arrived at Pecan Sandie Day. Of all the desserts in the world cookies are the least likely to make me reach for one, the least likely to induce “mmmmmm’s” and also the thing I am least likely to make at home. Like anyone with young kids in the house, cookies have been part of my culinary repertoire but those days are long over. So what to do on a day that asks you to make something you don’t particularly like or that fit into your current healthy eating commitment?
I had planned to get all nostalgic and make cookies with my daughter. I thought I would tell you some charming stories about cooking with my children, about the fun that occurred with them standing on kitchen chairs around the kitchen counter, about the family ties bonded with gooey chocolate chip cookies. It sounded better in my head. First, anyone who knows me well would have called me out on my fabricated domestic bliss. I did cook with my kids, but we spent a good deal more time at hockey, figure skating, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics, ballet… you get the idea. I always cooked well for my family and we always ate together at the dining table, but there were few Hallmark moments in our kitchen. It was a more of a factory operation than anything – cooking large batches of core ingredients that could be one thing today and something completely different tomorrow – packaging some into individual dishes for lunch – prepping what could be done ahead for the next meal. I mentioned in the pastry blog a few months ago that spanokopita was great for the freezer and worked well in entrée sized portions – in those hectic years I never made fewer than a dozen of the entrée sized pies.
I know. I am still avoiding the subject. I didn’t want to admit that I hadn’t actually cooked my mandated dish. I really had planned on it, but the month has sped past me much more quickly than I anticipated. In my defense I haven’t been home since the end of May. The fridge is empty and we’ve been living on take-out for the last two days. The plan to bake with my daughter in Montreal was foiled by her work schedule and a more demanding conference schedule than anticipated. So there you have all my excuses.
However, I can tell you what I would have cooked. Martha Stewart is my go to when it comes to cookies and bars. Her 1995 book “The Martha Stewart Cookbook: Collected Recipes for Everyday” bears all the hallmarks of a well-loved cookbook, replete with splatters and grubby finger prints. In that book you will find this recipe for Pecan Cookies on page 544. I’ve made these cookies for Christmas a few times to rave reviews I might add. When I was assigned Pecan Sandies, I knew immediately what I would cook. Please enjoy.
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ pound unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup finely chopped pecans
- 36 pecan halves
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture, a bit at a time, until thoroughly blended. Stir in the chopped pecans.
- Shape the dough into an even cylinder approximately 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 3500F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove plastic wrap and cut the dough into slices approximately ¼ inch thick. Place the slices on the baking sheet (leave room for them to spread) and lightly press a pecan half into the center of each. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Makes 30 to 36 cookies.
There is another recipe on Martha’s website for Pecan Sandies that has larger chunks of nuts and no baking soda. The website recipe will make a flat chewy cookie, but I prefer my cookies thin and crispy. The cookbook refrigerator cookie is the one for me – if I were to make cookies that is.
My sincerest apologies for there are no photos of my kitchen in the ‘90s, no pictures of fresh from the oven cookies. But trust me on this one. It’s a good recipe. If cookies are required I will use this recipe again. Given the choice, however, I’d prefer to use my pecans for pie.
I promise not to disappoint on Catfish day.