Pecan Sour Cream Sandies

Pecan Sour Cream Sandies for Valentines Day

Pecan Sour Cream Sandies for Valentines Day

When I was young my favorite cookies were Keebler’s Pecan Sandies.  What I loved about them was the thickness of the cookie, and how rich and crunchy they were.  That was my after school snack with a glass of milk.  I don’t know if they even exist anymore.   I no longer look for them because I don’t buy packaged cookies at the grocery store  when I bake so frequently at home.

This recipe came to my attention one year around the holidays  when I was lining up the cookies I planned to bake for Christmas.  It has since become a favorite, and if I don’t make it for the holidays, I usually make it at some other time during the year.  The dough is easy to make and although initially a little sticky, after chilling a while it firms up and becomes a very forgiving and manageable dough for cut-out cookies.  Since there are all sorts of cookie cutters available for just about any occasion, this dough is a good one to have in your recipe box as a dependable go-to when you want to make a cookie that will always come out good.  If you bake for someone who is nut-sensitive, just leave out the nuts, they will still be a delicious butter cookie.

On a side note:  I used to wonder what it was about pecans that makes them so expensive, when they are widely grown in the South, and used lavishly in southern cuisine.  During my vacation in North Carolina last fall, I think I learned the answer.  The folks we visited have a large pecan tree on their property–see photo below–and it was laden with pecans that hung in clusters.  I thought the tree was beautifully shaped and so I took a picture of it.   I did not realize that a pecan tree can grow to such a large size.

A pecan tree.

A pecan tree.

Not quite ripe pecans in their pods.

Not quite ripe pecans in their pods.

When the nuts are ripe the pods which hold them crack open and the pecan in its shell falls to the ground where they are picked up.  The quantity of nuts a tree will produce in any one year varies,  some years are “good’ and other years “not so good”. Weather and rainfall play a big part.  The pecan is one really protected little nut.  It resides inside the tan-brown shell that we recognize, but that shell is covered by another outer green shell or pod.  If you have ever shelled pecans you know how difficult that can be especially if you want perfect halves.  I don’t know how they are harvested commercially, but for folks who have a pecan tree, harvesting and cracking pecans is a lot of work.  Knowing this helps me to understand and appreciate their price.

Here is the recipe for the pecan sandies.  I made these as part of my cookie packages for Valentines Day this year.  I like to give gifts of home-baked treats to close friends and family for V-Day, a day for love, hearts and all things frilly!

PECAN AND SOUR CREAM SANDIES

Decorated treats!

Decorated treats!

YIELD:   Makes about 5 dozen cookies, depending on size of cutter used.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 recipe Royal Icing (recipe below)

1.  Grind the 1/2 cup pecans in a nut grinder or food processor.  Stir together the nuts, flour and baking powder in a bowl.

Mix finely chopped nuts with flour.

Mix finely chopped nuts with flour.

2.  In large mixer bowl beat butter about 30 seconds.  Add sugar;  beat till fluffy.  Add egg, sour cream, and vanilla; beat well.

Creaming butter, sugar, egg, sour cream and vanilla.

Creaming butter, sugar, egg, sour cream and vanilla.

3.  Add dry ingredients, beating till well combined.  Divide dough in half, cover and chill at least 3 hours, or overnight.

An easy to work with dough.

An easy to work with dough.

4.  Working with half the dough at a time, on a lightly floured surface, roll to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut with desired cookie cutters.  (Or dough may be shaped into 1-inch balls).  Place on silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets.  Chill each pan of cookies while you cut the next batch.  Bake cutout cookies in 375*F oven for 7 – 8 minutes,  shaped cookies for about 10 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Cookies cooling before frosting.

Cookies cooling before frosting.

5.  Spread with Royal Icing, sprinkle with nuts, decorative sugars, or other kinds of trims.

Royal Icing, tinted pink

Royal Icing, tinted pink

IMG_3054Royal Icing is a smooth fluid icing that holds its shape well and sets hard.  Once it is set you can carefully write on it with gel-food pens.

ROYAL ICING

In a mixer bowl, beat 1 egg white till frothy.  Add 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and a dash of salt.  Beat well.  Add a drop or two of food coloring (optional) to all or part of the glaze.  Decorate as desired.

Various sizes of square cookies.

Various sizes of square cookies.

I cut my cookies with several sizes of square cutters, divided the icing and tinted half of it pink, then stacked some of them, sprinkled some of them, and wrote on others with food-gel pens.  Simply done, but pretty.  Oh, the large cookie with the heart on it (a one of a kind) I will put into Mr. D’s lunch as a surprise!

IMG_3064

SOURCE:  Better Homes and Gardens Special Edition, Baking for the Holidays

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Sweet Potato Cookies

Sweet Potato Cutout Cookies

These cookies share one of the traditional flavors of Fall and Thanksgiving:  sweet potatoes.  I like to make them for any children who may be at my Thanksgiving Table, as not all of them like pie, preferring ice cream and cookies instead.  This year I have added two new cookie cutters to my collection; a turkey and a pumpkin, and I wanted to try them out, and since I am cooking sweet potatoes for a side dish, the small amount needed for this recipe allows me to make two things at once.  I like that!

These cookies are a kind of takeoff on the traditional Thanksgiving casserole of Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping.  I have made some minor adaptations to make them less sweet, and don’t usually frost them with the Marshmallow Frosting, but if calories are not a concern by all means top the cookies with the frosting.  You may also brush the tops with a little egg white before baking,  sprinkle with sugar and add a pecan or other piece of nut to garnish them.

What I did for the cookies pictured here is make an Ornamental frosting with egg white, confectioners’ sugar, and a little vanilla.  Then lightly frost them, like a glaze, and sprinkle with decorative sugar.

They are not a sweet cookie so they can take a small amount of frosting.  Children will like them for the shapes, and the frosting, not realizing they are getting some good nutrition from the sweet potatoes.   I haven’t tried it yet, but I think you could make them with pumpkin instead of sweet potatoes, since both are so similar as to be interchangeable .

SWEET POTATO COOKIES

Type of cookie:  Rolled cutout.   Makes about 15 large cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon  (Seems like a lot of spices, but this is no mistake.)
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
  • 1 egg white lightly beaten with a little water
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves, or other nut pieces
  • Marshmallow Frosting, (optional.)   Recipe follows.

1.  Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and pepper in a medium bowl; set aside.

2.  Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and sweet potato and beat well.

3.  Add the flour mixture and blend well.  Form the dough into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

5.  Roll the dough out on a floured work surface to 3/8 inch thick.  Cut with a 3-inch cookie cutter.  Place the shapes on the cookie sheets 2 inches apart.

6.  Brush the cookies with the egg white mixture, and press a nut piece into the center of each cookie.

7.  Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until lightly browned.  Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to finish cooling.

Turkey Cutout Cookies

Pumpkin Cutout Cookies

MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 6 Tablespoons sugar
  • mini-marshmallows
  • 2 Tablespoons boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the milk and sugar for 6 minutes without stirring.

2.  In a double boiler heat the marshmallows.  When they are very soft add boiling water, stirring until smooth.

3.  Remove from heat.  Add the vanilla.  With an electric mixer on medium speed beat in the hot sugar, keep beating until partly cool.  Use at once.

Pretty and Inviting. Garnished with a pistachio nut and decorative sugars.

SOURCE:   Crazy about Cookies by Krystina Castella