“The Dutch” Pecan Sandies Banner
SUMMARY – an unassuming cookie that is tender, buttery, nutty, crunchy and cinnamony all at once. This recipe proves your freezer is a baking tool.

browned-butter

When I first looked at this recipe, I checked out the picture of it. OK, it’s a round sugar cookie with sugar sprinkled on it. Been there, done that.

browned-butter-strained

As a kid I was a big fan of pecan sandies that the elves baked in their tree. They were also one of the very few packaged cookies that my mom would buy, probably because my dad liked them, too. Only if she had a tripled coupon, though.

butter-bits

There had to be something to these cookies, though. I saw plastic wrap, cooling and resting in the freezer these called for. Looks like a 2-day project, if only not to fill the kitchen sink with dirty dishes.

sugars-cooled-butter

I browned the butter first. Which took a while to do, since I didn’t want to scorch the last bit of the good Irish butter. I did that and worked on dinner (and played Farmville o.O).

creaming-butter-sugar

As an added bonus, I was heating up chicken cassoulet for dinner. Yes, this is leftovers in my house, the other half of the big batch I made a few weeks ago. After I strained the browned butter, I scooped out the solids and put them on the cassoulet breadcrumb topping. Butter on top of crunchy chicken skin and butter? Not thinking this is bad. Of course, my cholesterol numbers may disagree.

dry-ingredients

I measured the butter out (a little more than the recipe needed but it’s butter!) and put it in the refrigerator to cool during dinner.

dry-to-wet-ingredients

After the dinner dishes were corralled I started on the rest of the dough. It’s a good thing I heated up leftovers instead of dirtying a cutting board, knives and pans, since I had to break out the mixer and food processor for the dough.

kneaded-dough

Cream together the butter and sugars? Check. Grind the pecans with the flour and dry ingredients? Check. Great idea here to prevent over-processing the nuts. This would probably be even better in a recipe with toasted nuts. Toasting the pecans for this recipe might be interesting, as it would reinforce the nuttiness of the browned butter. I’ll file this idea away.

divided-dough

Scoop out the dough and knead it? Yeah … ugh … plastic wrap is involved.

rolled-dough

I hate plastic wrap. It doesn’t stick to what you want it to stick to, only itself. The stupid cutter thing on the box never works right. I think Rose uses top-secret special plastic wrap. Wrap that is nice and wide, sticks what you want it to stick to, and cuts nicely. Navy Seal Team “Cookie” brings it to her. Shhhh.

cookies-cut-freezer

I managed to get the dough divided and into the refrigerator without too much incident.

cookies-sugared-panned

The next night, after dinner, and after letting the cold dough warm up, I finished up the cookies. Again, with my off the shelf plastic wrap. Sigh.

cookies-cooling-overhead

I finally used my hexagonal cutters (a Christmas present from last year), so there wasn’t much re-rolling. The last batch I cut had only a little bit of dough left. There was no sense in re-rolling it, we ate it. Yum!

cookies-cooling-closeup

Because of the freezer rest time, the cookies took longer than a drop cookie. But the results I think were worth it. Tender and crunchy, nutty and buttery, cinnamon and pecan, so good.

cookies-plated

As I was eating one, I thought that this dough would make really good pie crust for a pumpkin pie. Or for the pumpkin-pecan pie we made last year. Ooooo …. another idea to file away!

Breadcrumbs

Vegan / Vegetarian

roasted-yams-and-chickpeas-with-yogurt

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad is Not Tuna, But No One is Mad via Food52
Blueberry Pie Overnight Oats from The Kitchn
roasted yams and chickpeas with yogurt from Smitten Kitchen
10-Hour Slow-Cooker Chana Masala from The Kitchn

Baking

halva-brownies

The Easiest Buttercream You’ll Ever Make (+ Meringue 101) from Food52
Yung, Wild and Free: Crucial baking advice from a Michelin-starred pastry chef from Tasting Table
You Deserve an Entire Cake All for Yourself from Bon Appétit
Classic Smith Island Cake from Saveur
Claire Ptak’s recipes for halva brownies and cookies from The Guardian

Techniques / Equipment / Etc.

cast-iron-myth-1

6 Things You Should Do to Take Care of Your Knives from Food52
The Truth About Cast Iron Pans: 7 Myths That Need To Go Away from Serious Eats
The Temperature Rule to Follow When Converting a Dutch Oven Recipe to a Slow Cooker from The Kitchn
Chained to the Stove: What It’s Really Like to Write a Cookbook from Serious Eats

Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Silk Meringue Buttercream

SUMMARY – not-to-sweet and subtle coconut cupcakes. Creamy light buttercream topped with toasted coconut shreds. Like a pina colada in a paper wrapper.

coconut-collection

These were some really good cupcakes. Like cupcakes that would win Cupcake Wars. Or a blue ribbon at the fair.

batter-mixing

It took a couple of stops to find real coconut extract. At the local grocery coop, I found this Aussie concentrated paste in a tube that was all natural, and not that fake stuff I kept finding in the spice section in the market. Thankfully I didn’t have to drive to another county to get it.

finished-batter

The cupcakes themselves were simple, although not one-bowl simple. More like 4 bowls for the separated eggs, the measuring bowl from my digital scale, then the mixer bowl.

cupcake-papers

I love the idea of using coconut milk in these. I was thinking that you could make these paleo if you used coconut flour and coconut sugar. Switch the butter with coconut oil, and you could make them vegan if you had an idea about egg substitution. Which, unfortunately, I don’t.

creme-anglais-start

I also decided to make the buttercream instead of the ganache. I found a new way to make buttercream from Food52 here. It’s a way to make meringue buttercream using a swiss meringue technique.

creme-anglais-done

Instead of making sugar syrup and pouring it over beaten egg whites, you heat the egg whites and beat them hot.

heating-eggwhites-sugar

The texture of the beaten meringue was like marshmallow fluff. But I think that’s because I only used 1 egg white from this frosting recipe instead of the 4 egg whites.

finished-frosting

Since there wasn’t a lot of volume of meringue, there wasn’t a lot of frosting. There was enough to put frosting on all the cupcakes, but the frosting to cupcake ratio was a little low.

trayed-cupcakes

And the frosting was so good that I wanted more of it!

3-cupcakes-in-a-row

I brought some to work. I have a co-worker that is not a cake fan. She is all about ice cream. She liked these!

3-overhead-cupcakes

And … there are no more left. We ate the last of them for dessert tonight. I call that recipe success.

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart

SUMMARY – Soft, crumbly crust topped with a smooth and creamy filling and chocolate glaze. The hazelnut praline was distinct and well-balanced. The bonus of a press-in-the-pan crust means this is a dessert to make again!

boiling-pot

Oh em gee. This tart was awesome!

boiled-hazelnuts

I’m not just saying that just because I didn’t have to roll out a crust. Which, by itself, was awesome.

skinned-hazelnuts

Even though I had to make hazelnut praline, which wasn’t so bad except for the getting the skin off the hazelnuts.

completed-paste

I couldn’t boil the hazelnuts long enough to make the skin easier to remove, because the baking soda made a lot of foam in the pot and I had to keep taking the pot off the burner.

crust-construction

But once I got the skins (mostly) off, and toasted, and covered with caramel, they ground down into this paste that would have been good enough to eat with a spoon. Oh, wait … I did eat that last bit of it with a spoon. Shhhh!

dough-in-pan

So the hazelnut praline was, in itself, awesome, in spite of adding an extra component to the tart construction.

mousse-filling

The tart crust was really good too. Soft, flavorful, food processor friendly. I baked it and it did puff up like Rose warned. But then it sunk back down and it was perfect. It would make really good cookies too, with a whole egg.

whole-tart-landscape

The mousse layer was also, dare I say it, awesome. And easy. I veered slightly off Rose’s instruction with the last whipped cream addition. I underbeat the whipped cream. I scraped it into the other mixing bowl with the cream cheese, praline paste and brown sugar, and beat it more. That worked out just fine.

whole-tart-top

Ganache? Easy! Tart assembly? Easy.

cutup-tart-top-closeup

I skipped the candied hazelnuts, because I put all the hazelnuts into the praline. I used nonpareils instead, which are still sugar.

cutup-tart-side-closeup

Everyone who had some loved this tart. And I didn’t feel too bad about giving away slices because they didn’t look like leftovers. Awesome!