Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pecan Cookie Fressen

I don’t know much German, even though I spent a few years in Germany when I was a child. Yet a few words stuck, partly because they were a part of the family dialog. For example, in our house, if you ate all the ice cream, you were an ‘ice cream fresser’.

Fresser: n eater, glutton, muncher, devourer
Fressen: n food, grub, chow
                v eat, feed, eat up, guzzle, gobble up

With Christmas fast approaching, I have been baking (and fressen) cookies. Something about this season demands baked snacks, and since food additive issues don’t take a holiday, I’ve been working on some new recipes. I was always a big fan of pecan shortbread cookies, but the elfish variety contain:

·         TBHQ a/k/a tertiary butylhydroquinone which is an antioxidant that comes from petroleum and is related to butane. It should be noted that the amounts of TBHQ allowed in food are very small (0.02% of the oil of fat content in food) and there is a wide margin between acceptable legal limits and those considered to be dangerous. That said, I just prefer to limit exposure to preservatives, additives, and chemicals in general.  

·         Soy ingredients, which more than likely means GMO ingredients (to avoid genetically modified soy you need to look for organic).  The original concern regarding the genetic alteration of plants has recently been compounded by superweeds (herbicide resistant weeds) that now require a cocktail of weed killers, thereby increasing the chemical load used to bring these crops to market.

·         Whey protein concentrate which contains processed free glutamic acid (MSG- see the Truth in Labeling link below for a complete list of ingredients that can contain processed free glutamic acid).

Obviously the whey protein concentrate eliminates any choice for me, but the other two are also on my radar. In the end, the idea of having something that tastes as good, or better, without the additional ingredients wins without question.

Mildly sweet & buttery Pecan Cookies

 I found some recipes online, and with a little tweaking and simplifying I came up with this version. I haven’t had the store brand in several years, but these tastes just like I remember them, and they can be made almost entirely organic (everything that I used, besides the baking soda and cream of tartar was organic).

·         ½ cup butter
·         ¾ cup sugar
·         1 egg
·         1 tsp vanilla
·         ¼ tsp salt
·         ½ tsp baking soda
·         ½ tsp cream of tartar
·         1¾ cup flour
·         ½ cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F (app. 175°C*) and line cookie sheets with parchment.

Cream butter and sugar, add egg & vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy.

Whisk salt, baking soda & cream of tartar into the flour and alternate folding flour mixture and pecans into the butter until fully incorporated.

Cover and chill the dough, then scoop the cookie dough in app. 1 Tbsp dough balls (I used a #60 cookie dough scoop). Flatten the dough balls into flat circles app. ¼” thick.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. These cookies don’t brown very much, so I just made sure they weren’t still doughy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet.

Pecan cookies with tea.
In the background: one plate with more pecan cookies
and another plate of Chai Spice Sugar Cookies

*I use an online conversion chart and round up or down, as seems appropriate. Please adjust according to your judgement, and send me a message if you find an error. Thank you.

Showing on this day 2010: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

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