I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions lately; specifically Christmas traditions. When I was a kid, Christmas meant gazing longingly at toys in the Sears Wish Book, an increase of baking going on in the (already) busy farm kitchen, snow-shoeing in the back fields, and skating on ponds with my cousins. My siblings and I would wait for mom to ‘finish getting ready’ in the car every Christmas Eve and years later,we finally figured out that she was quickly arranging our gifts under the tree so that it would appear Santa had arrived while we were at midnight mass. We listened to the ‘Santa report’ on our local radio station during the 45 minute drive to church, and if it was a starry night, we could watch the northern lights dance across the sky.
Then I became a parent and everything that I did to prepare for the holiday season was for my babies. It was so easy to get caught up in their excitement and it seemed like the magic of Christmas would always make our lives brighter during the long Canadian winter months. As the children got older we decided to move across the world to Perth, Australia where we experienced two hot weather Christmases and tried our best to remain festive without the pond skating or the turkey dinner by going snorkeling and having a rock lobster feast instead. I think what I missed the most (other than family) was the joy of baking Christmas goodies because to me, the lengthening of days, arrival of snow, and baking days are what I need to mentally prepare for Christmas.
This year I am starting a little bit early so that I can try out more recipes than ever before and because I attended the second meeting of our local ‘Bite Club’ hosted by local blogger and food personality Julie van Rosedaal. Our potluck meeting, comprised of local food enthusiasts, had a ‘holiday fingerfood’ theme to it and I came away with some great recipes for dishes to snack on during the holidays. As I tend to do at our family gatherings, I brought the sweets; namely these Pecan Polvorones which have a tiny little element of savoury as well. I found them (and many other delicious looking cookies) on fellow FBC food blogger’s site The Finer Cookie. Kimberlie’s blog is all about cookies and that is A-okay with me!
Pecan Polvorones with Muscovado and Rosemary Centres
- 1½ cups (5.25 ounces) pecans
- 1/3 cup (2.33 ounces) sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened and cut into chunks
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg yolk (optional)
- 2 cups (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- FOR THE FILLING
- 2/3 cup (4.625 ounces) firmly packed dark Muscovado sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Scant 1/8 teaspoon salt
- fresh rosemary
- Pulse the nuts in a food processor until most are finely ground and the largest pieces are about ¼ inch. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the sugar and salt to the food processor; process them together until fine and powdery.
- Add the butter, vanilla and egg yolk (if using), and pulse until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the flour and pulse until the dough starts to clump together (you may have to stop and scrape the sides of the food processor). Add the nuts and pulse just until combined.
- Empty processor contents onto counter and knead it by hand to make sure it is evenly mixed. Do not overwork.
- Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on a lined cookie sheet small enough to fit in your refrigerator. Press the handle of a rolling pin dipped in flour into each ball to form a depression
- Cover and chill the cookies for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 325⁰F. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and place them 1 inch apart on the lined or ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the cookies are lightly coloured on top and light golden brown on the bottom. The cookies will puff while baking, so the depression you made will be less deep after they are baked. You can make them a nudge deeper right after they come out of the oven if you need to.
- While the cookies are cooling, combine the Muscovado sugar with the cream and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Boil gently for about 2 minutes without stirring. This will allow the sugar to firm when cooled.
- Allow sauce to cool slightly, then pour into a squeeze tube. If you don't have a squeeze tube, spoon a little filling into the depression in each cookie. Squeeze the sugar filling to fill the depression. Lay a sprig of fresh rosemary on the sugar filling.
These cookies were a huge hit at Bite Club and I really think making them in the food processor is the secret to the buttery melt in your mouth texture. Next time I make them I may try to infuse a little more of the rosemary flavour into the muscovado filling, just to give them a bit more of that unique flavour.