14 March 2009

Pecan Pie Bites


I really like Pecan Pie. It is one of my all time favorites. It is usually over the top sweet but, in small doses, it speaks of warm southern tradition like no other dessert can hope to. In every bite there is the whisper of huge trees swaying over green lawns lending their shade and, in season, their bountiful harvest. There is nothing that tastes better than a fresh pecan kernal you have just pulled from its shell.

While I like pies I'd have to say that I love cookies. I like small cookies that offer just a luscious sweet bite, a small taste of something rich and special. In fact what I love about cookies speaks to the way I like to eat pecan pie too. I like just a taste, a small bite or two now, another bite or two later. And so when I saw this recipe for Pecan Pie Bites in the local paper I thought, "How perfect!" I clipped the recipe and hoped to give it a try.

The one thing that was holding me back was making the crust layer. Those Pillsbury Pie Crusts only come in circles and I needed an oversized rectangle of pie pastry to line the baking sheet for this cookie recipe. I was reluctant to proceed.

Finally last year, in response to Alanna’s Pi Day challenge I found that I could make a passable pie crust. It wasn’t pretty getting there but as a result I gained a little confidence in my pastry skills.

This year I thought I would give a nod to Pi Day by finally trying this enchanting recipe. I rolled out the pastry on my Silpat baking mat to help transfer the dough to the baking sheet. (Rolling it between layers of plastic wrap would also work.) I still ended up tearing the pastry as I positioned it in the pan but I put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes and then patched the dough and it turned out fine.

It didn’t take quite as long as the recipe said to bake these cookies so I suggest keeping an eye on them for the last 10-15 minutes in the oven. Also, I think that next time I will just cut them into 1 – 1 ½ inch squares instead of diamonds. The diamond pattern seems to leave a lot of waste around the edges in odd shaped bits and crumbles. Of course those would make a great topping for vanilla ice cream so I’ll leave that decision up to you.

These little pecan gems turned out to be a hit with the family. I liked them too, especially the honey in the pecan filling. It added a nice exotic depth to the flavor, and in tandem with the earthiness of the pecans, made these Pecan Pie Bites utterly transporting.

Happy Pi Day!


Pecan Pie Bites
from a newspaper clipping

Crust Layer

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted

Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients at medium speed until the mixture is smooth and light.

Add the egg and blend, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice, until smooth.

Add the flour all at once, mixing on low speed just until blended.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and shape into a flattened disc. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or longer (or freeze for future use.)

Prepare a 15 x 10 inch jellyroll pan by greasing and lining the bottom with parchment paper.

When the dough has had time to thoroughly chill, prepare a work surface (I use a silicon mat or a sheet of plastic wrap laid on the counter) by lightly dusting it with flour.

Place the dough on the prepared work surface. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour, or cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll it from the center out with a rolling pin. (Work quickly. If the dough becomes too soft, place it on a pan and put it in the refrigerator to chill before continuing.) Roll the dough into a 17 x 12 inch rectangle that is 1/8 inch thick.

Carefully transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Gently press it into the pan, lining the bottom and sides without stretching the dough. Trim as necessary for a good fit. Prick the bottom with a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes. Remove to cool while you prepare the Pecan Filling.


Pecan Filling

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 cups pecans, chopped

Combine the butter, brown sugar, white sugar, honey and heavy cream in a saucepan fitted with a candy themometer. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat.

Add the pecans and stir until mixed. Immediately pour the pecan mixture over the pre-baked crust and spread evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees until the filling bubbles evenly across the surface and the crust is golden, approximately 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

When cool carefully remove the slab of cookies from the pan in one piece. Turn it upside down to remove the parchment, then carefully turn it rightside up on a cutting board.

Trim away the edges and slice the remaining sheet into bite sized diamonds or whatever shape you desire.

Store at room temperature, or wrap airtight and place in the refrigerator or freezer.

Enjoy!

10 comments:

noble pig said...

They are so cute! I love Pecan Pie and always feel guilty eating a whole slice. This solves that problem!

Ricki said...

I'm much more of a cookie gal, too, so I'd love these! And my hubby loves pecan pie--seems like the perfect dessert for me to make. Happy Pi Day, too!

Elyse said...

Aww, these are precious. Perfect Pi Day celebration!! Yum, yum...love my southern treats!

Mary said...

What a great way to celebrate Pi day!
These are really cute.

Donna-FFW said...

Adorable.. Love how they look. I have got to try them. So delicious!!

Robin Sue said...

Now these look adorable and delicious! Great for Pi day or any day!

Grace said...

you know what they say about great minds and all that. :) i think i like your pseudo-pecan pie even better than mine. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but have discovered your blog through Laura Ford, who goes to the gym I go to and occasionally links your page to her facebook comments. I, too, love to cook and bake and am loving your blog!

I'm making these Pecan Bites tonight (and will most likely use them for the cookie exchange I attend each Christmas season) and can't wait! Your recipes are simply incredible!

Jana

Lisa said...

Thanks for the sweet comments! The small size of these little pie bites does cut down on the guilt associated with a a regular sized slice of pecan pie. I mean you can only cut those so thin. Plus these cookies are much less messy to eat. I think you'll like them if you give them a try.

Of course Grace, your muffins also qualify as a great bite of pecan pie for the same reasons.

Jana - Thank you! I'm so glad you stopped by and left a comment. Aren't cookie exchanges fun? I hope this cookie works out for you. If not I have several more of my favorite cookie recipes I plan to share this year.

Nicisme said...

Heh heh, you got me dribbling over the keyboard after seeing these!