Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Maple Lime Pecan Cookies

With all the chaos from moving back to the west coast, my blogging has obviously been severely neglected. It also seems that since I’m living in someone else’s house for 6 weeks or so, I shant be baking for a while. This is where I cry myself to sleep every night. In truth, I probably won’t have time for it anyway, given the whole new job thing and it’s associated time-consuming activities – like having to think before putting clothes on in the morning. Drag!

In light of this, I’ll spend today’s entry talking about the things I made last week. [Oh and of course, I forgot to take photos of this next cookie, so I’ll throw in pictures of the banana bread for the sake of looks.] Let us take, for instance, another Experiment In Terror – Maple Lime Pecan Cookies. When I told my little sister about my ambition to replicate the flavor of the sample I tried at the new neighborhood Whole Foods’ Nut Counter, she replied, “That sounds … not delicious.” And I suppose if I hadn’t tried the sample myself, I would’ve said the same thing.

Fortunately, I ignored her protests and ventured onward. And behold! I ended up with a delicious butter cookie flavored distinctly with pecans and maple candy bits in the dough and a – forgive my use of this word – zingy lime glaze on top. Without the glaze, the product was just another butter pecan cookie. With it, however, the cookie danced delicately on the line that separates “wow I never would’ve thought of this combination, but it’s really tasty” and “wow I would never have put these flavors together – with good reason.” Luckily for me, it ended on the latter side. So thank you, Whole Foods, intimidating grocery store extraordinaire, for a free sample of some inspiration. This is only further proof that free samples, not gravity, make the world go ’round.

- The ingredient list is split into two parts, one for the cookie itself, one for the glaze.
- This recipe requires chilling the dough! Plan on baking them the next day or at least 3 hours after letting them reside in the fridge.

Maple Lime Pecan Cookies
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Butter Cookie recipe in her book, Cookies And Brownies

Cookie Ingredients:
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar (I used extrafine)

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)

zest of 2.5 limes

juice of 1 whole lime

1/3 cup crushed maple candy, chopped into small bits*

~3/4 cup whole pecans (measured while whole), chopped into small bits

*This can be found at Whole Foods, in the baking aisle. I encourage you to experiment with other ways to get the maple flavor into the cookie – let me know if you have any ideas!

Glaze Ingredients:
juice of 2 limes

~2 tsp sugar

1. Cream butter until smooth using wooden spoon

2. Using fingers, rub the lime zest into the sugar in a small bowl, making sure to bring out the juices in the zest

3. Cream butter, sugar, salt, zest, and vanilla until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, using a wooden spoon.

4. Add [1 lime’s worth of] lime juice and stir until completely incorporated.

5. In a separate bowl, sift flour using a wire whisk. Add maple bits and pecan pieces, and sift further using the whisk.

6. In 3 parts, slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just incorporated. This may take a bit of effort (it did for me!).

7. Knead the dough a couple times to make sure it's smooth.

8. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a round log, 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours.

-- When you’re soon going to be ready to bake --

9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until light golden brown at the edges, rotating the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. (I skipped that step and had no problems)

-- While the cookies are in the oven --
i. Heat the lime juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low-medium heat.
ii. Stir the sugar into the lime juice using a rubber spatula, and cook until the sugar is completely dissolved.
iii. Set aside a small pastry brush.

10. Once you’ve removed the cookies from the oven, let them firm up on the pan for about 1 minute before transferring them to a rack. As they’re cooling, use the pastry brush to apply the glaze liberally to the top of each cookie.

11. Completely cool before stacking or storing. May be stored airtight for several days, but they’re best 3-4 days after baking.

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