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Candied pecan almond butter cookies

Candied pecans and almond butter turn a regular chocolate chip cookie into something a little more special.

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    Candied pecan almond butter cookies with chocolate chips.
    The Pastry Chef's Baking
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My favorite cookies that use almond butter are the Almond Butter Nutella Swirl cookies I've blogged about before. I love those cookies so much that I rarely make them because it's hard (so hard) to limit myself to just one. But I made a batch to bake for holiday treat bags because I was in the mood for it and it is the holidays after all. Plus, I found a jar of almond butter at Costco on sale. But since we're talking Costco here, the jar was a decent size so I still had a good amount of almond butter left even after I made the cookie dough for the Almond Butter Nutella cookies.

I automatically searched Pinterest for any other cookie recipes that use almond butter and discovered this one. The picture from Hearts in My Oven sucked me in because the cookie was a nice thickness and it used candied pecans. Who doesn't love candied....(insert anything here)?

To candy the pecans, you simply melt sugar to a liquid golden amber then coat the pecans thoroughly in the mixture. However, it wasn't as simple as that for me. For one thing, I didn't know how long to cook the sugar. Melting sugar is always tricky (for me). Sometimes it burns, sometimes I don't cook it enough, sometimes it crystallizes. Yes, fraught with danger, me and melting sugar. Worse, I made a rookie mistake and didn't follow my own advice to toast the pecans first. I think I had some vague notion that coating them with the molten sugar (aka caramel) plus baking them in the cookies would be enough to bring out a toasted flavor. I was almost right but not quite. So please toast and cool the pecans first before candying them.

Recommended: Christmas cookies for everyone on your list

Despite my mistake, the cookies turned out fairly well. This is one you definitely don't want to overbake or even fully bake. The almond butter gives it a gritty texture (which I like in this cookie) but if you bake it too long, that grit will become dry and crumbly in your cookie.

While I normally don't like nuts in my cookies because they soften and interfere with a cookie's texture, candying them ensured they stayed crisp. But please let the cookies cool completely so the caramelized pecans have time to harden again and crisp up. These made nice little morsels of goodness to pack into treat bags this holiday season and were something a little different than the usual chocolate chip cookies (although there's never anything wrong with chocolate chip cookies at any time of the year).

Candied pecan almond butter cookies
From Hearts in My Oven

Candied Pecans:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pecans chips

1. Heat sugar in a medium saucepan on medium heat until sugar is bubbly and golden brown, stirring constantly. 

2. Once sugar turns into syrup consistency, remove from heat and add pecans. Gently toss pecans until all are coated completely. 

3. Allow pecans to cool and harden, at least 30 minutes. Once cooled, chop into smaller pieces.

Almond Butter Cookies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, browned
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup almond butter 
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon non-fat vanilla yogurt
3.5 oz chocolate bar, chopped

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and continue cooking until mixture foams, particles are browned and a nutty aroma arises, 7-9 minutes. Transfer to bowl to cool.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine browned butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add in the almond butter and mix until combined. Add egg, vanilla extract and sour cream until just combined.

4. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and candied pecans.

5. Scoop dough into balls slightly smaller than golf-ball-size and flatten slightly into thick discs. Cover, chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.

6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange frozen discs evenly spaced apart on baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Cool completely.

Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Almond Butter Nutella Swirl

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