Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Pecan Crunch Cookies

Have you noticed that it's hard to find a good cookie these days? Sometimes after lunch, or in the afternoon with my tea, or after dinner, I just want a sweet, flavorful bite of yummy. Not a trendy cupcake or mini pie. Not a scone, brownie or muffin. Not a cookie the size of my head. Just a good little cookie. Preferably in a flavor other than chocolate chip, oatmeal or peanut butter. And that's surprisingly hard to find.

Sometimes to get my fix, I resort to baking. And this here, this is a good cookie, especially with Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner. I started with a recipe, but decided it wasn't quite awesome enough, so I played with it.

It's pumpkin-flavored. Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. (That comes from proper baking time and temperature.) It has a dab of salty, cinnamon caramel frosting. And it's topped with crunchy candied pecans. Overall, the whole thing isn't too sweet, and it's got some complexity in flavor and texture. Hooray!

Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cinnamon Caramel Icing (recipe below)
Pecan Brittle (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and beat just until combined. Drop tablespoons of dough 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 6 minutes, then rotate baking sheets and bake 6-7 minutes more, until cookies just begin to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and cool slightly, then use a spatula to transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Use a small offset spatula to ice cookies with Cinnamon Caramel Icing, and sprinkle with chopped Pecan Brittle.

Makes about 2 cups

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (light brown sugar will work, too, but won't be as rich)
1/4 cup milk
1  1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves

Place butter and brown sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until brown sugar dissolves. Let cool, and whisk in remaining ingredients.

Makes enough for chopping and sprinkling on the cookies, plus a little extra

1  1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2-3 drops lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place a silicone baking liner or a sheet of buttered parchment paper next to the stove. Place chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast 6-7 minutes, until fragrant. Meanwhile, stir together sugar, water and lemon juice in a clean saucepan. Turn heat on high, and let cook until medium brown; your goal is to get the color as deep as possible without burning it. Stir in the hot, toasted pecans. Spread this mixture as flat as possible onto the silicone baking liner and let it cool completely. (To clean the sticky saucepan, fill it with some water and simmer it for awhile, until the caramel dissolves.)

Photo: Dara Sahebjami

1 comment:

  1. These are amazing! A huge hit at the Genthe Thanksgiving extravaganza.