Cookies and Bars

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies (and Beer) for Santa

by Shawnda on December 24, 2013

in Cookies and Bars

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

Cookies and craft beer. That’s what Landry leaves out for Santa. The jolly old elf’s tastes sure have changed over the years!

Cookies & Beer for Santa

30 years ago, his choice of treat while making the brief stop at our house was always a glass of milk and a slice of chocolate pie. I remember asking my dad why we didn’t leave cookies out like everyone else did.

“He eats cookies all night, Shiner. By the time he makes it to Texas, he’ll be hankerin’ for somethin’ different.”

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

(Yep, my dad still says “hankerin.” And yep, I had a nickname that would end up the name of a popular beer. Go look up foreshadowing if you need to and then giggle.)

You can be sure, though, if something had prevented Santa from visiting our house, a fear we 4 kids secretly had… and all secretly had pre-pinned fault on my troublemaker sister Kristen, that chocolate pie would have never gone to waste.

Because coincidentally [wink wink], it was also my dad’s very favorite pie.

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

We were pie people. So on Christmas Eve, before and after we visited my MeMaw & PaPa’s house to open gifts, we baked pies. And when we woke up before dawn on Christmas morning, there was always a single bite of chocolate pie left on the plate – fueling our belief in Santa that much longer.

Because no way in hell would my dad had ever left a perfectly good bite of chocolate pie behind. (I can just see that heavy-whispered argument go down between my mom and dad, as much tradition in our house as the slice of pie itself, no doubt: Don’t eat it all! Why not? Because! Because why? Because it needs to look like Santa ate it! BUT IT’S CHOCOLATE PIE!!!)

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

The Santa of today prefers cookies and a glass of Texas beer on his brief stop in Katy, Texas. So cookies he will get. Chewy cookies studded with butterscotch chips, pecans roasted in browned butter, and a sprinkle of salt over top.

As for the beer, Santa will get a tall frosty mug (unless he decides to bring me those fancy beer glasses I’ve been wanting) of our homebrew Cousin Eddie’s Christmas Ale – it’s a strong ale flavored with oak, bourbon and vanilla bean. Although, at a whopping 9% ABV, he’ll probably have to settle for a flight glass unless he wants to stick around a while :)

Merry Christmas Eve!

Chewy Butter Pecan Cookies

Thick and chewy cookies studded with pecans roasted in browned butter and butterscotch chips.

Ingredients

  • For the pecans
  • 6 oz pecan halves, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Salt
  • For the cookies
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus an extra pinch for sprinkling
  • 12 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 oz pkg of butterscotch chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Over medium heat, brown the butter in a small sauce pan, scraping the bottom occasionally to prevent the milk solids from sticking and burning.
  3. When the mixture has turned a nice amber color, turn off the heat and stir in the pecans until complete coated.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet in an even layer and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.
  5. Roast for 7-10 minutes, until browned and fragrant.
  6. Let cool and set aside.
  7. Lower oven temp to 325. Line two baking sheets (I move the pecans to a bowl and wipe down the "pecan pan") with parchment or a silicon mat.
  8. Place butter and sugars in a mixer bowl, mix on medium high until well-combined, 2-3 minutes.
  9. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla.
  10. Add dry ingredients and mix on low just until combined. Add butterscotch chips and peanuts until distributed.
  11. Chill dough 15-20 minutes. Scoop 1/4-cup dough balls onto a lined baking sheet.
  12. Bake 12-16 minutes, until the edges brown and the center is still soft.
  13. Sprinkle the warm cookies with a pinch of salt and then let cool on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Notes

Yields: ~18 large cookies

Cookie dough base adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Estimated time: 50 minutes

{ 5 comments }

Orange and Cranberry Curd Squares

This truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

After our Fairy Mermaid Princess (Princess Mermaid Fairy?) waved goodbye to the last of the trick or treaters, we turned off the lights and gave The Little her choice of Hocus Pocus or Charlie Brown to help wind down from the excitement of the night. Because nothing blows a 3 year old’s mind more than seeing other kids dressed in a costume.

Momma, look! That boy has a face on top of his other face!

She, who ended up sleeping in her Mermaid Fair Princess tutu-dress thingy – again – chose Charlie Brown… Christmas. So here we are, on November 1st with the first holiday dessert of the year already half gone.

Orange and Cranberry Curd Squares

In my defense, we didn’t have a single piece of Halloween candy left over. So we went with the next best thing for breakfast today: Orange & Cranberry Curd Squares.

You might recognize the recipe from its cousin post, Grapefruit Curd Squares. Because next to a margarita, those bars are still the greatest things to happen to a grapefruit.

And these bars aren’t that far from being the greatest things to ever happen to cranberries. Or cranberry juice, I should say.

Orange and Cranberry Curd Squares

Pies will get their moment to shine but for now, we’re perfectly happy ushering in the holiday season with a batch of beautiful citrusy & tart cranberry bars.

Plus, it’s far harder to pass off a piece of pie as breakfast.

Orange-Cranberry Curd Squares

A citrusy shortbread cookie topped with a beautiful red cranberry curd.

Ingredients

  • For the cookie base:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Zest from 2 small oranges, divided (and fruit reserved for juicing later... or just eating)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cold and cut into 8 pieces
  • For the cranberry curd:
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice*
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp yogurt or sour cream
  • Powdered sugar, for serving
  • 1-2 drops red gel coloring (optional)
  • *We're talking about the pure, unadulterated 100% "why did I wear white today" cranberry juice, brands like RW Knudsen. Not the juice cocktail kind with pear and apple juice.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray an 8x8 baking pan with non-stick spray.
  3. Add flour, salt, sugar, 2/3 of the orange zest, and butter pieces to the small bowl of your food processor and process for ~1 minute, until the butter has been completely distributed into the dry ingredients and there are no traces of powder left. (You can do this by hand, it will just take a few minutes longer - just smash the sugar with the orange zest first to better distribute the orange flavor.)
  4. Spread mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan and press down firmly.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, until the edges brown.
  6. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  7. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  8. Whisk in the remaining orange zest, cranberry juice, eggs, and yogurt until thoroughly combined and lump-free.
  9. Not overall thrilled with the color of the mixture? Consider adding just a drop or two of red gel coloring. Happy now? Great, let's move on.
  10. Pour over cookie crust and bake for 20-25 minutes, until just set - the center should jiggle but not be fluid when you gently shake the pan.
  11. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes and then run the tip of a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen.
  12. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 12 squares and serving dusted with powdered sugar.
  13. Leftovers will keep a few days covered, at room temp or in the fridge.
  14. Fabulous eaten cold and called breakfast. Not that I'd know.

Notes

Yields: 12 servings

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma's Lemon Curd Squares

Estimated time: 2 hours

{ 5 comments }

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

After spending a week learning about cooking and nutrition at her preschool, my sweet(ish) little(ish) Landry Kate came home with a chef hat, an apron, and an intensely unwavering interest to help me brownies.

Can we make brownies? Can we make brownies now? [yelling from inside the pantry] I can’t find the box of brownies!

Intensely. Unwavering. Interest.

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

But only in the “making brownies” part. (Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll focus on Unloading the Dishwasher 101 next week.)

Like any 3 1/2 year old, some of her favorite things are measuring, scooping, whisking, and stirring. And like any human, her absolute favorite part is licking that last bit of batter from the spoon, scoop, or spatula. But not the whisk! You only have to get your tongue pinched once before you realize that thing is the devil.

We made peanut butter cookies last week and as we’re getting ready to scoop out the dough, she throws her hands out and yells in that panicky, shrill tone that sends a mother’s heart into high gear fight mode: Oh, no Mommy! We forgot the chocolate!

Drama. We has some around here.

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

There have been many times when I’ve joked whether or not she might have been switched with another baby at the hospital. Like that time when she ran up to pet the weird giganti-lizard on a leash at the zoo. [shudder] And that time when she brought me a “brown lady bug” (a June bug). [double shudder] Or all those times she peeled open a quesadilla, ate the meat and cheese and left the tortilla virtually untouched.

But today? When the world temporarily came to a screeching halt so we could pair our favorite chewy peanut butter cookies with some chocolate? Today was not one of those days.

Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Soft, chewy peanut butter cookies studded with chocolate chips.

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment or a baking mat.
  2. Cream the butter and peanut butter on medium high for 1 minute.
  3. Add sugars and beat at med-high for another minute. Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  4. Add flour, baking soda and salt on low speed until thoroughly combined. Mix in chocolate chips (the dough will be quite soft).
  5. Chill dough for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Drop the dough by the small scoopfuls onto a lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden brown. For a crispier cookie, allow the entire cookie to brown. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Notes

Yields: ~24 cookies

Slightly adapted from The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 45 minutes

{ 20 comments }

White Chocolate-Peppermint Chunk Cookies

It’s a cookie hangover kind of Monday.

Yesterday I took 6 dozen cookies to a cookie exchange… and came home with 6 dozen different cookies. Chocolate-covered cherry cookies, chocolate-peppermint sandwich cookies, peanut butter truffles, chocolate-ginger cookies, cinnamon-chocolate chip…

In between baking and packaging up 6 dozen cookies and the tummy full of deliciously sweet shame that I have now – bottomless glasses of Prosecco. We kind of know how to party. And by kind of, I mean our hostess is a rockstar.

My contribution this year was White Chocolate-Peppermint Chunk Cookies from Pink Parsley. I couldn’t find the Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips that she used (but there was plenty of the regular chocolate & green mint kinds everywhere), so I made my own with white chocolate baking chips, crushed peppermint, and peppermint extract.

White Chocolate-Peppermint Chunk Cookies

The resulting chunks were creamy but still had little crunchy bits of candy in them. Folded into a chocolate chip cookie dough base, they made a deliciously chewy and festive cookie perfect for a boozy cookie exchange.

White Chocolate Peppermint Chunk Cookies

A festive, chewy cookie studded with white chocolate peppermint chunks.

Ingredients

  • For the white chocolate peppermint chunks:
  • 12 oz bag white chocolate baking chips
  • 16 peppermint candies, unwrapped
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • For the cookies:
  • 2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups white chocolate peppermint chunks

Instructions

  1. Line a dinner plate or small tray with plastic wrap.
  2. Finely crush/grind the peppermint candies until most of the candies are very small pieces.
  3. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave at 70% power for 1 minute.
  4. Stir and microwave another 30-60 seconds until smooth.
  5. Add the crushed peppermint and give a few stirs.
  6. Sprinkle the peppermint extract over top and give it a few more folds - your texture is going to go from flowy to something that looks feels more like buttercream frosting.
  7. Transfer the white chocolate mixture to the prepared plate and use a spoon to spread it around to an even thickness.
  8. Lay another piece of plastic wrap on top and use your hands to smooth and spread the white chocolate.
  9. Refrigerate ~15 minutes until solid.
  10. Turn the white chocolate disk out onto a cutting board and cut into small chunks.
  11. Preheat the oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
  12. Stir flour, salt, and baking soda together and set aside.
  13. Beat butter and sugars together on medium-high 1-2 minutes until mixed (I usually just let the mixer run while I'm gathering and measuring out dry ingredients and such).
  14. Scrape down the sides and add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat until uniform.
  15. Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
  16. Add the white chocolate chunks and let the mixer run a few more seconds until incorporated.
  17. Drop heaping tablespoons onto the prepared pan and bake ~18 minutes until the edges begin to brown, rotating sheets halfway through.
  18. Let cool on the baking sheet and transfer to an airtight container for storage.

Notes

Yields: ~20 cookies

Slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

Estimated time: 45 minutes

{ 13 comments }