NIBBY PECAN COOKIES
Recommendation: make the dough a day before baking, and bake the cookies
at least 24-hours before serving - longer is better.
1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) pecan halves
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 t. salt (slightly rounded if you like)
1 T. plus 1 t. bourbon (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup cocoa nibs (The Barinas would do good here)
2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet. Toast them in the oven for 7 to 8
minutes, or until fragrant and lightly colored. Let cool, then chop.
Combine the butter, the sugar, salt, bourbon, if using, and vanilla in a
medium bowl and, using a large spoon or an electric mixer on high speed,
beat until smooth and creamy but not fluffy (about 1 minute with a
mixer). Stir or beat in the pecans and cocoa nibs. Turn off the mixer,
if you are using one, and add all the flour at once. Beat on low speed to
prevent the flour from flying out, just until the flour is fully
incorporated. Or stir in the flour until incorporated. If necessary,
finish mixing with your hands.
For slice and bake cookies: Form the dough into a 12-inch log about 2
For rolled and cut cookies: Divide it in half and form into two flat
patties. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably
overnight. (The dough can be frozen for up to three months).
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat
the oven to 350 degrees.
To slice and bake: Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into 1/4
inch thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on
ungreased cookie sheets.
To roll and cut cookies: Remove one patty from the refrigerator and let
it sit at room temperature until supple dough to roll but still quite firm
- it will continue to soften as you work. roll the dough out between two
pieces of wax paper or between heavy plastic sheets (from heavy duty
plastic bag) to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Turn the dough over once or
twice while you are rolling it out to check for deep wrinkles; if
necessary, peel off and smooth the paper or plastic over the dough before
continuing to roll it. Peel off the top sheet of paper or plastic and
place it in front of you. Invert the dough onto the paper and peel off
the second sheet. Cut out cookies as close together as possible to
minimize scraps, dipping the edges of cookie cutters in flour as necessary
to prevent sticking. Use the point of a paring knife to life and remove
scraps as you transfer cookies, using a narrow metal spatula, to ungreased
cookie sheets, placing the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart. (If the
dough gets too soft at any time while you are working, slide a cookie
sheet underneath the paper or plastic and refrigerate the dough for a few
minutes until it firms up again.) Repeat with the second piece of
dough. Press all of the dough scraps together gently (don't overwork them
with too much kneading), reroll, and cut out more cookies.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown at
the edges, rotating the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back
halfway through the baking. Let the cookies firm up on the pans for about
1 minute before transferring them to a rack with a metal pancake
turner. Let cool completely. for best flavor and texture, store the
cookies in an airtight container for at least 24 hours before
serving. (They can be stored airtight for at least 1 month).
NIBBY COCOA COOKIES: If you omit the nuts, increase the nibs, and add
cocoa, you get these tender, crunchy cookies with even more complex but
subtle flavors. Omit the pecans and bourbon. Decrease the vanilla to 1
teaspoon. Whisk 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or
Dutch-process) into the flour before adding it to the dough. Increase the
nibs the 1/2 cup. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they
have puffed slightly, fallen, and feel firm to the touch.
SUBSTITUTIONS: I like the recipe with walnuts, or with toasted skinned
hazelnuts instead of pecans, or substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground vanilla
beans, which you can do yourself or buy, for 1 teaspoon of the vanilla
extract. I also like to use sea salt that is slightly coarser than table
salt - then I often use a tad more than 1/4 teaspoon, as this adds a
little flavor enhancement.