Browned Butter Pecan Cookies
I’m back in New Zealand for the next 2 months, which means I get to escape the dreaded New York winter for a little bit. I had told my Mum I was only coming back for November, but I surprised her at a family lunch with a card that revealed the secret. It was definitely worth keeping it to myself the last few months, as her reaction was priceless. I’m so looking forward to spending quality time together, and also Christmas. It always feels a bit strange spending Christmas overseas.
My Mum has the cutest dog, Jessie, so I’m getting in some much-needed dog time, as I’m not able to have a dog in NYC. I take her out for a walk every morning, which is a nice change-of-pace for me, as I’m used to just going straight to the office. I’ve always preferred exercising first thing in the morning, and I really want to get back to this routine once I’m back in NYC.
My Mum is also happy to have me back in the kitchen, which gives her a well-needed break, and gives me the opportunity to test out new recipes.
These Browned Butter Pecan Cookies are the perfect Fall cookie, with double the nuttiness thanks to the browned butter. They’re soft and chewy and the pecans make them extra indulgent. A sprinkling of coarse sea salt compliments the sweetness of the cookies so well. I love how they keep their shape (minimal spreading here!) The first time I made them, my boyfriend took one without knowing what kind of cookie it was. My first instinct was to yell ‘you won’t like it, it has pecans!’ but I decided to keep my mouth shut. He typically only eats peanuts, but surprisingly, he really liked the cookie and came and got another! I couldn’t believe my eyes. So, if you also have a nut-hater in your house, they may actually eat these cookies!
These cookies need to be made a day ahead of time, as the butter is melted and the dough needs ample time to chill.
Tips for browning butter: use a skillet or sauté pan and heat over medium-high heat. The butter will become melted as normal, then you’ll continue to cook over medium heat (stirring occasionally), until it turns a lovely golden-brown colour. Use caution here though, as you need to remove it before it burns, which is a very small window. Once you remove it from the heat, be sure to pour it into a bowl, or it will continue to cook (and then burn). Be sure to scrape all the golden bits off the bottom of the pan into the bowl.
For the buttered pecans:
1 & 1/2 cups pecans, finely chopped
1 & 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the cookies:
1 cup unsalted butter (225g)
1 standard ice cube (30ml frozen water)
2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or cornflour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
16 pecan halves for decoration
Coarse sea salt or sugar for sprinkling
Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook and gently swirl the pan continuously until particles begin to turn golden brown and the butter begins to smell nutty (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer melted butter to a medium bowl and whisk in ice cube. Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. (You can hasten the process by whisking over an ice bath).
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and baking soda until combined.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the granulated sugar, eggs and vanilla extract and mix on medium-high speed until mixture is pale brownish-yellow and falls off the beater in thick ribbons when lifted, about 5 minutes.
When brown butter mixture has cooled (it should be just starting to turn opaque again) add this and the brown sugar to the egg mixture. Mix on medium speed to combine, about 20 seconds.
Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, with some flour streaks remaining, about 15 seconds half. Using a spatula, gently stir in the buttered pecans.
Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least overnight (or up to 3 days). Allow dough to come to room temperature before scooping.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Scoop 3 tablespoon sized rounds of dough onto prepared baking sheet. You should be able to fit 8 balls onto each sheet. Firmly press a pecan on top of each ball of dough. Place in the oven and bake for 12-16 minutes (I baked mine for 14 minutes). The cookies should be golden brown around the edges, but still soft. While cookies are still soft, sprinkle very lightly with coarse salt or sugar and gently press down with your fingertips to embed. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Notes: Store cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Cookie dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.