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  • Lea

Pecan Sandies

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

The Challenge:


This week, we had two challenges right up my alley: crackers and cookies - specifically, Pecan Sandies, which you can find here or on page 219 of Foolproof.


Lea's Take:

Yay, cookies! And just in time for Christmas!


Typically, we have a cookie exchange with our book club so we have a bunch of different kinds of cookies to enjoy around the holidays (without having to actually bake them all), but stupid COVID ruined that. And now, why should we have so many cookies around the house when no one (but you) is going to eat them, right? But, it's nice to have at least one type of cookie to enjoy for the holidays, so good going on the schedule, Mar. [Mary: Hey, thanks! I'm glad you noticed.]


You guys already know I am not a cook, nor am I a baker. As we've talked about in the past, I don't use my KitchenAid mixer but once a year for Christmas cookies...well, and that one challenge. So, today, I had to draaaaag the heavy thing up from the basement to make this challenge.


The recipe says to toast a cup of pecans in the oven, so while those were baking, I measured out the remaining ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder and something called turbinado sugar. (Look at me, being proactive! I'm going to kill this recipe (at first, I meant that in a good way, but...we'll get to that).)


I'm going to pause here to ask: Ina, why do you have to have such exotic ingredients? Josh did the shopping for me again this week and, of course, couldn't find turbinado sugar. I told Mary and she was all, "I have some" (because, of course, she does) and then said, "It's Sugar in the Raw."


If it's Sugar in the Raw, why doesn't the recipe just say SUGAR IN THE RAW?! Ina! [Mary: The cookbook shows a picture of it. Read the (book) recipe. And? I was at your grocery store the other day...there's even another package near the Sugar in The Raw that is labeled, "Turbinado Sugar." If I were Josh, I'd stop doing the shopping for you, It's probably bad for his self-image.]


What was I saying?


Yeah, so while the pecans were toasting, then cooling, I got everything else together easily enough. When the pecans were cooled, I put them and 1/4 cup of the flour in the...KitchenAid to grind (ground?) (to make the pecans "finely ground").


After about 5 or so minutes of mixing and mixing and mixing, those suckers weren't getting as small as I would've liked, so I shut the thing off and started cutting down the pecans with a butter knife [Mary: Butter knife, eh? Sounds effective.]. [Lea: It was working, but time-consuming.] And wondered out loud, "Why aren't these ground?"


Josh: What does the recipe say?

Me: "Place the cooled pecans plus 1/4 cup of the flour in a food processor --"

Josh: Well, that's not a food processor.

Me: Sonofa!


I'm real good in the kitchen, y'all.


So then! I tried to transfer the almost-but-not-quite-ground pecans into the food processor but ended up with half on the counter. And while I tried to clean that up, knocked over the rest of the pecans and...had to start all over again.

The only good news that comes out of my mistakes is that I do a really good job the second time around.


Sidenote: The pecans grind up really well in a food processor. [Mary: Hunh.]


Next, you combine the ground pecans with the rest of the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Got it, got it. And then use the KitchenAid (see, I knew I had to use it at some point!) to cream the butter and sugar. Then add the vanilla and sloooowwly add the flour mixture until it becomes a dough.


I did it!


After that, you use a small ice cream scoop (which I don't have) or your hands (which I DO have!) to form balls, 1 inch in diameter. Listen, I'm no carpenter or someone who can eyeball an inch, so, without a ruler to check my work, I took a guess at the size of these suckers. Ina says the recipe yields 24 cookies... I made 40. So, I guess mine are more the bite-size variety. [Mary: I'm going to agree that the 1-inch size doesn't work out for the amount of cookies the recipe says it makes. More on that later...]


Mary's Take:

I lovelovelove this cookie. I've made it for cookie exchanges and at Christmas for years. I probably should make them more often, but 1.) now they just feel like Christmas to me, and 2.) I would eat. All. The. Cookies. They, and coffee, are the reason I usually have Sugar in the Raw in my pantry.

Does anyone use Plugrá butter for their baking? [Lea: Guess.] It's a European-style butter, which has a little higher butterfat content than American-style butters. We usually use Land O'Lakes around here, but I bought some Plugrá recently for Christmas baking. I'm sure I couldn't tell the difference in the cookies, but I'm also not good at comparisons unless I'm tasting things side-by-side.


A couple of notes on making these.

  1. Because raw sugar has larger crystals, it doesn't dissolve while you're creaming it with the butter. Just beat it for the 2 minutes listed in the recipe.

  2. The smell when you whiz the toasted pecans with the flour in the FOOD PROCESSOR (heh heh) [Lea: Hilarious.] is divine.

  3. Lea is right that the 1" estimate for dough ball size isn't correct. I started making them with my 1" scoop [Lea: Of course, she has one.] and realized I would have too many, so I pulled out a scale and measured...they came in at 0.6 ounces. I added dough to make them 1 oz., which is what the recipe recommends ("form the batter into balls about 1 inch in diameter (1 ounce on a scale)"). Turned out to be exactly 24 cookies. (Success!)


The Verdict:


Lea: While this challenge probably should've taken, maybe, an hour, it took me about 3 hours to make these cookies. Also, I tried Mary's cookies a few days before I made mine and, obviously, hers were better. [Mary: They were not.] Hers were the perfect combination of sweet and salty. Mine? Were a) crumbly and b) not salty until the very end. [Mary: Which I love...makes you want to eat another.] But...they were good enough, I guess.

Josh: Why are they crumbly? Did you forget something? (Because, let's face it, it's entirely possible at this point.) But they taste right. (So, I guess there's that.)


Mary: As I mentioned, I love this cookie. It's not too sweet, it's buttery, it's salty. Yes, it's crumbly, but that's a product of it being so light. The pecan on top gets crunchy, so you can actually take a bite without losing the entire nut (which is something I'm sure concerned all of you). It's a lot like the Greek cookies called kourambiethes, but without being topped with powdered sugar. And they're pretty and festive.


If you're looking to win a "Best Tasting" award at your Cookie Exchange, this is your guy. Enjoy!





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