Thursday, January 01, 2015

Baking Around the USA: Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies (Georgia)

It has been a while since I made a baked good to pair with a book I had been reading, but that's about to change around here!  I only have 12 states left in my Around the USA reading challenge, and my World Lit group is tackling Australia/New Zealand/Oceania/Southeast Asia.  Tasty treats will be essential!

I binge-read Flannery O'Connor short stories.  If you aren't familiar with her, she is one of the quintessential southern writers, from Georgia.  Do you know what else is from Georgia?  No, don't say peaches.  (Stephen Colbert begs to differ.)  Pecans!  Yes!  My inlaws gave me some Georgian pecans and I had been pondering what to make ever since.  As I read these stories, my brain was demanding something southern, something sweet, and I remembered a recipe I'd had pinned for a few years.

I took this recipe from a guest post on the Tator Tots and Jello blog.  I didn't change a thing, except to clarify that it is only if you make the cookies 1" that you will end up with 5 dozen. I used a regular cookie scoop and had exactly 2 dozen. The icing was perfect for that number, and I topped mine with chopped pecans.

These are delicious, but like many southern baked goods, very very sweet.  The nuts help to balance the sweetness a little, but grab a big glass of milk or sweet tea!

Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • Brown sugar frosting (see below)
  • Pecan halves (or chopped pecans) for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Add sugars and beat until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in chopped pecans. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. (If making larger cookies, add an extra 1 to 2 minutes to baking time.) Cool 2 minutes on pan and remove to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.
  5. To frost, spread about 1 tsp of the brown sugar frosting on each cookie (more for larger cookies) and top with a pecan half or more chopped pecans. Yields approximately 5 dozen.
Brown Sugar Frosting
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Combine brown sugar and half and half in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 4 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Add 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Consistency will seem thin but will thicken as it cools. If frosting seems too thin, add enough of the remaining powdered sugar to desired consistency.

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