One of my best friends from Texas sent me a Southern Baking magazine this year for Valentine’s Day. I’ve worked my way through lemon pound cakes in the spring and blackberry cobblers in the summer, but I’ve been keeping my eye on the pecan pie cookie recipe for the past few months. Waiting. Anticipating. For the day when it would be perfect. I whipped these little jewels up on Thanksgiving Eve and I’m pleased to say, they were the perfect addition to a simple, but sufficient Thanksgiving. I halved the recipe because 60 seemed too exuberant a number (and 4 cups of Pecans seemed like a lot!) but I don’t think I’ll be doing that again. Share with friends. That’s what you’re supposed to do with pecan pie, anyway.
4 cups (600 grams) pecans
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon dried nutmeg
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups (275 grams) white sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour
Pecan Pie Filling:
3/4 cup (110 grams) chopped pecans
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) dark corn syrup (I found mine at the Grare’ American Store in Wilrijk)
2 1/2 tablespoons (35 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg (when I halved the recipe, I cracked the egg into a bowl, scrambled, then poured half)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
Using a food processor, combine pecans, 1 tsp of salt, and ½ teaspoon of nutmeg and pulse until finely ground. (You can also finely chop pecans in a food chopper in batches, but it will take a little while longer). Pour into a medium-sized bowl.
Using a hand or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until creamy (three or four minutes). Stop and scrape sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.
Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla.
With mixer on low speed, add flour gradually, 1/2 cup (75 grams) chopped nut mixture, remaining 1 tsp of salt, and remaining 1/2 tsp of nutmeg. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat until mixture starts to come together. About two minutes. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.
While cookie dough is chilling, prepare Pecan Pie Filling – In a medium saucepan combine chopped pecans, sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, egg, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low, simmer, and stir constantly until thickened. (About 3 to 4 minutes). Let it cool. If it hardens before the cookies are baked and cooled, just rewarm a little bit and then spoon into the cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) and line a few baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough into 1-inch (2 ½ cm) balls, then each ball in the remaining nut mixture. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, make a little indention in the enter of each ball.
Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and press down the centers again (I’d use a spoon this time, they’re hot!). Bake until lightly browned (about 4 to 5 minutes longer). Remove from oven and let the cookies cool on the pans for two minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Spoon 1 teaspoon Pecan Pie Filling into the centers of each cookie and let stand until filling cools.