Brown Sugar Pecan Toffee Rounds

brown sugar pecan toffee roundsWhy do some cookie recipes call for chilled dough? While it certainly makes your dough easier to handle, there are also some scientific principles at work. When you chill your dough, it gives the butter, shortening, or other fat in your recipe a chance to solidify, so when your cookies bake, the fat will take longer to melt than if it were at room temperature. This means your cookies will stay in shape, rather than spreading into puddles of goo. Chilling dough also dries out the dough a bit, but in a good way, enhancing the flavors of your ingredients. For more in-depth info on chilling dough, check out this great post from the folks at King Arthur Flour.

Slice-and-bake cookies, like these brown sugar pecan toffee rounds, must be chilled so you can actually slice them. The recipe below is adapted from one I found in a Better Homes & Gardens holiday cookie magazine, which called for ground almonds instead of pecans. As I only had pecans, I substituted them with great results.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup toffee pieces
  • 1 cup ground toasted pecans

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and butter until combined.

Add brown sugar, baking soda, and salt; beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times.

Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Beat in flour about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl well, then beat or stir in toffee pieces and ground toasted pecans. You may need to use your hands to fully incorporate the pieces into the dough.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 10-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 5 hours, until the dough is firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut logs into 1/4 inch slices and place about 1 inch apart on your baking sheets. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until edges are light brown and firm.

Cool on cookie sheets for about 3-4 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Pecan Drops

pecan dropsBaking is both a science and an art, given that it requires both precision and creativity. Once you’ve baked your fair share of treats, you realize that just because the recipe in the book says to use a cup of this and a teaspoon of that, you sometimes need to improvise.

Why is this necessary? It all depends on the conditions under which a recipe has been tested, and the conditions under which you’re baking, which might be very different. Perhaps the test kitchen is in New York City, and you’re baking in New Orleans. Maybe the recipe was tested on a day in the middle of November, and you’re baking in the middle of July. Perhaps the test kitchen baker didn’t let her butter soften as much as yours, or she used a different kind of baking sheet.

Whatever the reason, you’ll usually know if you need to improvise as soon as you’ve finished mixing it according to the source’s instructions, and you’ll most definitely know after your first batch has baked. I suspected that I’d need to add more flour right after I finished mixing my dough, but I baked one test batch just to be sure, and I was proven right. This recipe includes more flour than Martha’s original, but I also fully acknowledge that it’s 88 degrees in Pittsburgh and very humid today, so the next time I make these, I might not need it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup pecan bits, toasted and cooled
  • 32 pecan halves

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line four baking sheets with parchment.

In a small bowl, sift flour and kosher salt together; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add egg yolk and mix well.

With the mixer running on low, slowly beat in flour mixture until just combined.

Stir in pecan bits.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart (you should have 9 cookies per sheet for optimal baking). Press a pecan half into the top of each cookie.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are just golden. Cool on cookie sheets for 2-3 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.