These Masala Pecan Sandies Are Your Weekend Baking Project

March  5, 2020

Many people know Bien Cuit—the James Beard award–recognized bakery with three shops in New York City—for its bread. The name translates as “well done” in French, nodding to loaves that are taken beyond golden-brown, toward someplace darker, deeper, and sultrier. And yet, here at the Food52 office, we know Bien Cuit for something else entirely: its cookies.

Last year, for instance, when our co-founder, Amanda Hesser, found out that the bakery had halted production on its superlative shortbread, she took matters into her own hands: “You can’t do this to us! Please reconsider.” (Don’t worry, we got the recipe.)

Ironically, though, that to-the-point shortbread is something of an anomaly for Bien Cuit, which thrives on unexpected flavors more than anything else. As chef and owner Zachary Golper put it, “If you’re not adventurous, you’re boring.” And who wants to be a boring shortbread?

For Golper, sometimes, said adventure manifests in a flour swap. Take these salted chocolate cookies. Instead of all-purpose flour, Bien Cuit turns to gray buckwheat, which has an earthy, nutty flavor, and just happens to be gluten-free.

Other times, it means putting a savory, umami spin on an otherwise sweet dessert. “The key is to start with something that’s approachable,” Golper says, like a baked good recipe you already know and love. Then, to “then take it from ordinary to extraordinary,” simply add one or two big-personality ingredients, and let them lead the way.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I’m not finding the author notes, but have a simple question. When you ask for masala do you mean Masala mixed spice, gram masala, masala chai?”

Think: mixing caramelly miso into caramel sauce, or fruity black pepper into fruit crisp, or warming masala—the term for myriad spice blends in Indian cuisine—into pecan sandies.

The last is our latest obsession—full of warm spices and toasty nuts. “You’ll want to eat 12 of them,” Golper said when he told me about the recipe. “You shouldn’t, but you’ll want to.” To respectfully disagree: I think you should.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


I’m not finding the author notes, but have a simple question. When you ask for masala do you mean Masala mixed spice, gram masala, masala chai?
Sandy May 2, 2020
This article doesn’t explain, but once you hit the “view recipe” button and get to the whole recipe the header goes into more specifics
Thanks so much!
MOTchicago March 15, 2020
1-1/2 egg yolks?
How do you split an egg yoke?
(Not a snark, a real question)
Emma L. March 16, 2020
Hi! The most reliable way is to use a digital scale here (they really are a game-changer when it comes to baking). The next best approach would be to add an egg yolk to a small bowl, stir with a fork until it's loose, then eyeball out one-half.
Christopher May 1, 2020
By weight or volume