Whenever I make Nekisia Davis’ olive oil maple (truly "Genius") granola -- which is frequently -- I find myself unable to resist strip mining the maple-y, olive oil drenched, toasted pecans. One day I asked myself, "Why not make just the nuts and use them as the primary ingredient in a cookie?" So I did, using the ratios of ingredients from my mother's holiday nut crescent recipe. I'm fairly certain she clipped it from a "Good Housekeeping" or similar magazine sold at the Safeway checkout in the 1960s. (We got quite a few of our holiday favorites from those magazines.) These cookies take a bit longer than your standard nut crescent to make, but I think you'll agree they're well worth the effort. I urge you to make a double or triple batch of the pralines. You'll want plenty on hand for sprinkling on porridge, rolling up into Chelsea buns, topping your ice cream (for example, Paul Virant's "Genius" pumpkin butter swirled into vanilla ice cream) or putting into scones or on muffins. I hope you enjoy these. ;o) —AntoniaJames
In a medium bowl, toss the pecans well with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the maple syrup and the brown sugar, so all of the pecans are well coated. Let them rest while you heat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spread the coated nuts and any crumbs on a parchment-lined medium baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes, turning the nuts over after about 12 minutes. Check them after 18, to make sure they don’t darken too much. Put in a bowl to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and 1/4 cup olive oil with the sugar until light and creamy. If using an electric mixer, medium speed works well here, for about 4 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and water; scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat until blended.
Chop the pralined pecan pieces into small bits. (I pulse them quickly 15 - 20 times in my food processor. You want the bits to look like rock salt. Don't be tempted to leave them larger, as the cookies simply won't hold together well. A few pieces the size of lentils are okay.) Add to the creamed butter with the flour. With a large spoon, stir to incorporate fully.
Wrap and chill the dough for at least an hour, or up to 48 hours. The longer, the better!
When ready to bake, heat oven to 325 degrees. Divide the dough into four equal portions and roll each into an 8-inch log. When shaping the cookies, use a bench scraper or small sharp knife to cut each log into walnut-sized cubes.
Roll the chunks of dough into little logs. Shape into crescents, pinching the ends just a bit. (As you can imagine, children love doing this.) Space an inch or so apart on your baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet; then, roll the slightly-warm cookies in sifted confectioners’ sugar.
Do let me know if you like these. Your devoted pal, AntoniaJames ;o)
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)