Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Butter Pecan Cookies!

I made these cookies last week and they just disappeared. It was definitely the most popular cookie with my husband, son, and coworkers I have made so far!
My husband kept commenting on how he liked the cookies and after taking some to work when I came back home there were no cookies left for me to even take a picture, nonetheless to eat. So... of course I had to make it again!
It is easy to see why these cookies were so welcomed by everyone. You get sweet and buttery and nutty all in one cookie, a truly delicious cookie, good for giving out to friends!
These are buttery but without being too rich/strong on the butter department, does this even make sense?? I guess some would find a similar aspect to shortbread cookies (which I am not too fond of) but I have to say that I like these a lot more.
The nutty flavor from the roasted pecans is just a great complement to the sweet butter cookie, really, one of the best cookies I have made.
Even its smell is deliciously inviting, plus they came out perfect both times (which is not the rule when it comes to cookies for me, I am not a good cookie baker I have to admit) and I still can't believe how so many people loved them!
I came across these cookies at Elise's blog when looking for a recipe to help me use up a bag full of tiny pieces of roasted pecans. Click here to see her post and pictures, plus if you haven't seen it yet check out the blog, she has some good stuff in there!
Here I post some step by step pictures that I took as I made them. They are the easiest cookies ever to make and the end result is just amazingly good, believe me, you gotta try these ones!!

Since I founf these to be just perfect to have with a cup of tea while chatting with your girl friends I decided to submit this recipe to Cris' October event "Cha da Tarde", so at the end of the post I will have the recipe translated to Portuguese to those who would like to try it too!

Butter Pecan Cookies
(Adapted from Elise's blog Simply Recipes)

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar, plus about two tablespoons more for coating the cookies
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt (if you use salted butter omit the salt in the recipe)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Pre-heat oven to 350F.
Toast the pecans in the oven for about 4 to 6 minutes. Take a look around 3 to 4 minutes if they are already chooped, up to 6 if they are still whole. Let cool and if whole finely chop them before adding to the recipe.
Using a stand mixer cream the butter for a minute, then add the sugar, salt, and vanilla and cream together for a couple minutes more. Add flour and beat just until everything is incorporated. Fold in pecans with a spoon or spatula.
Shape dough into balls, roll them in sugar and place on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil but since it is a butter cookie there isn't a real need for this). With the bottom of a cup flatten the balls slightly just so you get a nice round but still substantially thick cookie.
Bake at 350F for about 12 t 15 minutes, depending on how big your cookies are.
I got 18 cookies from my batch and they took 12 minutes to bake. You don't want them to get too much color, just a lightly golden color around and at bottom of the cookies.
Let cool and be ready for the compliments when you serve these!

Here is how big my pecan pieces were...

Roll balls of dough into sugar...

Placed onto baking sheet...

Flatten with the bottom of a cup (I used a measuring cup for these!) and into the oven they go!

Biscoitos Amanteigados com Noz Pecã

3/4 xicara de pecãs picadinhas
1 tablete de manteiga em temperatura ambiente (1/2 xicara)
1/3 xicara de açúcar, mais 2 colheres de sopa para envolver os cookies
1 colher (chá) de extrato de baunilha
1 pitadinha de sal (caso use manteiga ja salgada omita o sal da receita)
1 xícara de farinha de trigo

Pre-aqueça o forno a 180C.
Toste as nozes no forno em uma assadeira por 4 a 6 minutos. De uma olhada em 3 a 4 minutos se suas pecãs ja estiverem picadas. Se estiverem inteiras fique de olho a partir de 5 minutos. Deixe esfriar e reserve p/ usar na receita. Caso as nozes estejam inteiras pique as antes de utilizá-las.
Na batedeira bata a manteiga ate ficar macia, 1 minuto. Junte o açúcar, o sal e a baunilha e bata novamente por uns 2 minutos. Adicione a farinha e bata somente ate incorporar. Com uma colher de pau ou espátula incorpore as nozes à massa.
Modele a massa em bolinhas, passe-as no açúcar e coloque-as em uma assadeira (eu forrei a minha com papel alumínio mas como os biscoitos contém manteiga nao é extremamente necessario, eles nao grudam muito).
Com o fundo de um copo, gentilmente amasse os cookies somente para que nao fiquem arredondados, mas nao deixe-os muito finos.
Asse a 180C por 12 a 15 minutos, dependendo do tamanho dos seus cookies.
Eu consegui 18 cookies com a receita e os meus levaram 12 minutos para assar.
Nao deixe que assem demais, o que voce quer aqui eh um leve dourado na parte de baixo dos cookies, assim eles ficaram crocantes na borda e amanteigados no meio.
Deixe esfriar, sirva e se prepare para os elogios pois esses cookies sao um sucesso!!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Popcorn Disaster...!

Anyone who cooks on a regular basis know how many times we end up trying a recipe or a (sometimes not so) brilliant idea and the results are way less than what we expected it would be.
Well, this week I had one of those disappointments, and even though it wasn't anything major (no one was hurt and there was no big waste of food either!) I was kinda of curious to know why it didn't work.
Soooo, here I come to post it and ask you guys to help me figure out what I did wrong. And to start with, here is what I was trying to do: make popcorn right from a fresh popcorn cob!
I got this fun and cool popcorn thing from my boss. She went to visit family members in Massachusetts and came back with some of these for each of the ladies that work at the chocolate shop where I work (She also brought some delicious apples which are already gone... some we ate and some turned into apple muffins, yumm!! But this is another post...)
She mentioned we could either use it as decoration or try popping it. Obviously I thought this was the most fun thing ever (I like having fun with food!) and of course I tried to pop it!!
If you like food like I do you would probably understand my excitment and try to pop it too, right?! (I thought so!!)
However, the thing didn't go as I expected. The popcorn did come with instructions on how to pop and it was as simple as could be: "Place cob inside small, brown sandwich bag. Fold bag... and place in the microwave... Cook on high power for about 2-3 minutes. When popping slows down... it is ready."
Sounds easy, doesn't it?? And that's what I though!
So I took one of the popcorn cob...

... placed inside a brown paper bag, being careful to not fold too tight and in the microwave it goes, we hear it popping and do the popcorn dance around the kitchen (!!)...

... popping sound slows down, we turn off the microwave and remove the bag...
... the smells of popcorn invade the kitchen as we open the bag ("hummm, fresh popcorn!"), and then... Look what happened!!!
The popcorn surely popped, but it didn't come out of the cob!

Well, I think, I might have done something wrong, lets try with another one.... same thing again, carefully popping the precious cob and.... nope! Didn't work again, thus why you see 2 popped corn attempts on the picture above.
So, my questions are: Has anyone tried this before? Is this supposed to happen?
We were sort of disappointed (not much though, as it was simple to get my pan and some popcorn kernels and pop my own popcorn at the stove as I always do), but at the same time we could not figure out what went wrong.... was the popcorn too young? too old? too tight in the cob? (does that even make any sense?)
The 3 of us (me, Matheus and hubby) stayed there, trying to pick the popped corn from the cob but it was no help, it was tough and not really very edible.
After a day of thinking and not coming up with anything, Matheus had this idea which got us both thinking: "Mommy, why don't you take the kernels out of the cob we have left and pop them in a pan on the stove, like the ones you make for us all the time?"
Man, I didn't even think about doing that, but it does make sense, doesn't it? So, would scraping the kernels off the cob I didn't use (I had 3 cobs) result in the same kind of kernels I buy for popping popcorn? I sound so silly, but this popcorn thing did get me puzzled!
If I don't get another idea I will definitely try that and post a feedback here to say what happened!
See, I always post the good and yummy recipes we try, but even though this was not a recipe (more like a fun culinary experiment!) it was a failure and I wanted to share. Not just to see if someone might have some insights about my popcorn disaster, but also to show that not everything goes right in the kitchen.
There are always "those days" when nothing seems to cooperate and everything sort of goes to the wrong direction of what initially was planned, but even with all the kitchen mishaps and a few errors here and there I still love cooking and experimenting in my kitchen. To me this is still the most fun place to be!
Let's see if someone can help with this one, I will be here, waiting for your comments and responses! And, even if you don't know the answer, please comment and add your ideas, it is always fun to read what my blog friends have to say!