Sunday, June 24, 2012

Justified

Before my dad's recent visit, I talked about what I normally ask people to bring me when they're coming from the states. But once the goods arrive, the imminent question arises: how do you decide when and where to use these coveted food stuffs? Gobble up everything at once? Share with friends? Hoard so that it lasts until the next delivery is guaranteed?


At this point in the game, I do a mix. I try to space out the peanut butter consumption so it lasts, but I also make sure to get people to try it whenever they come over. The chocolate seems to go quickly no matter what I do (kitchen elves and what have you). The wild rice I try to save for a special occasion when we have guests over.



These cookies were how I used up the last of my pecan stash. I wanted to make something heavy on pecan flavor so their usage would feel justified. Because the dough is cut thin, there is a lot of surface area which allows the pecans to toast pretty thoroughly as the cookies bake and infuses the dough with baked pecan flavor. These are of the slice-and-bake variety, making them extremely straight forward to whip up and particularly amenable to periodic bakings-off, as the mood or necessity strikes. 

Pecan Cookies
     adapted, heavily, from Deborah Madison

4 oz. unsalted butter
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. demarera sugar (optional)
1 egg
1 tsp. natural vanilla extract (I use homemade stuff with a cachaça base)
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
pinch salt
3/4 c. coarsely chopped pecans (walnuts would be nice too)

Cream the butter and sugar(s) together. Beat in the egg until fully incorporated, then beat in the vanilla. Add in the flour and salt and stir until combined, then stir in the pecans. Now, if your dough is still pretty cold, you can immediately roll it into a log (you can make logs any size but I like to make them around 2.5'' in diameter), wrap it well in saran wrap, and put it in the freezer. Because I'm in a hotter climate, I normally have to chill the dough in the bowl (well covered in plastic) for about an hour, until it's firm enough to be able to roll into a log. Let the dough chill in the freezer for an hour or up to a couple of months. 
When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. Use a sharp knife to slice off 1/4. inch wide rounds from the log, arranging them onto a baking sheet and leaving an inch in between each cookie (they won't spread particularly but you don't want them on top of each other either). Bake ~10 minutes, until golden brown at the edges. Let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a rack to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.



Galletas de Nueces 
     adaptada de Deborah Madison

115 g. de mantequilla sin sal
3/4 taza de azúcar impalpable
1 cucharada de azúcar demarera (opcional) 
1 huevo
1 cucharita de extrato de vainilla natural (uso extracto casero hecho con cachaça)
1 1/4 taza de harina de trigo (tipo 000)
pizca de sal
3/4 taza de nueces pecan, picados gruesos (estaría rico con nueces normales también)

Bate la mantequlla con el azúcar (blanca y demarera, si lo quieres incluir) hasta que estén bien incorporados. Echale el huevo y bate hasta que esté totalmente incorporado y agregale la vainilla, mezclando bien. Echale la harina y sal y bate justo hasta que estén incorporados, después echale los pecanes. Ahora, si la masa todavía está mas o menos fría, haz un rollo (puede ser de cualquier tamaño pero a mi me gusta hacerles con un diametro de 6 cm.), envuelvelo bien en plástico y guardalo en el congelador. Como estoy en un clima más caliente, normalmente tengo que meter la masa todavía en el bol a la nevera (bien tapada con plástico) por alrededor de una hora, hasta que esté suficiente firme para rodar el tronco. Dejale enfriar en el congelador por una hora, o hasta un par de meses.
Cuando las quieres hornear, precaliente el horno a 175ºC. Con un cuchillo afilado corta tajadas de .7 mm, colocandolas en una bandeja para hornear, dejando un espacio de 2 cm. entre ellas. Horna durante 10 minutos, hasta que estén doraditas por debajo. Dejalas enfriar por 5 minutos en la bandeja y después transladalas a una rejilla o un plato para terminar de enfriar. Espolvealas con azúcar impalpable antes de servir. 

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