I have two words for you people:
Ok, and a third:
Oh, brown butter. I could rhapsodize about you all the live long day. How something as simple as butter heated till it starts to brown, then whisking the ever living daylights out of it, can transform whatever it is used in into something so ethereally delicious, is why the mystery of cooking & chemistry and I will forever remain on alchemical planes.
Alchemical planes. Is that even a real term? Like, some otherworldly plane of alchemy, otherwise known as when a nothing is turned into gold?
I don’t even know. What I do know, though, is if there was such a thing as alchemy, it is browned butter. I could drink the stuff straight, buuuuut I’m retaining fat cells enough as it is these days.
Since browned butter has a nutty flavor that works especially well when paired with baked goods, I decided to use it in the Pecan Sandies I exchanged as part of the Great Food blogger Cookie Swap. Hosted by Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil and Julie from Little Kitchen, the Great food Blogger Cookie Swap joins food bloggers that trade dozens of cookies. And get jealous of each other’s cute and festive packing abilities. Oh wait, that was just me? Anyway.
I thought I was being festive when I sent my cookies in red cellophane bags, with a small Christmas card. Then I was overjoyed to receive so many beautifully wrapped packages from Willow at Will Cook For Friends (Brown Butter Chai Snickerdoodles- a girl after my own heart!), at Slow Roasted Italian (the most amazing Chocolate and Peppermint Cookies), and at The Big Fat Indian Wedding (three different types of rugelach!). It doesn’t feel like Christmas til you get cookies in the mail, right?
I would like to think I’m pretty cool with my butter and everything, and my little holiday-themed bags of cookies (that I prayed wouldn’t break!), but I got humbled all over again when I found that the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap raised over $13,000 (I’ll say it again! $13,000!!!!) for Cookies For Kid’s Cancer. And then I thought, “butter schmutter. Stop being so envious of other people’s packages and cookies. This is what it’s all about.”
Browned Butter Pecan Sandies Recipe
- 1 cup chilled butter (2 sticks) diced, plus 2 tablespoons butter
- 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 2/3 cup all-purpose white flour
- 2/3 cup almond flour
- 1 cup whole pecans
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
- Preheat the oven to 350*F. Heat the 1 cup of butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat until totally melted. Once the butter starts to foam, start whisking. Whisk until the butter has turned the color of dark caramel (about 2-3 minutes, though it will feel like your arm is about to fall off from all the whisking), then remove from the heat immediately. Pour the butter into a medium sized bowl, then wipe the saucepan clean.
- Add the white sugar and vanilla extract to the butter and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, sift together the cinnamon, white flour and almond flour. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring as you go, until they are combined. Set the bowl aside.
- In the wiped-clean saucepan, melt the other 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the sugar and mix, then pour in the pecans and stir until the pecans are covered in the sugar mixture. Spread out onto a plate or a tray to cool.
- Roll tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough and place 1-2” apart on a baking sheet. When the pecans are cool enough to handle, press one sugared pecan into the top of each cookie. If the sides of the cookie crack considerably, gently push them back into place.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottoms. Allow to cool completely before handling, or the cookies will break apart. Store, tightly covered, in a cool, dry place for up to four days.