Maple Nut Cookies

Maple Pecan CookiesI love it when I find a recipe that I have made several times before and then kind of forgot about.  And a Christmas cookie to boot!!!

Its like…well…Christmas!  Discovering a little surprise package.  Oh look at this!  A great cookie recipe!  Tucked away in the catacombs of my cookbook collection, it was just sitting there.  Quietly waiting for me to bring it back after years of neglect.  I’ve been searching out a lot of those recipes that were-um, pre-blog, if  you will.  Tasty recipes I made, tweaked, served, and loved, and then just took a break from them for a bit.  Then some smell or thought or different dish triggers my memory and I suddenly think, “Hmmm.  Whatever happened to that one cookie/bar/bread/chicken dish I used to make?”  Much like my closets, I feel my archives are always in the need of weeding.  I don’t like holding onto something that I am never going to use.  Either it is a good recipe, or its out.  It is also why I like to go back through my personal boards on Pinterest and clean them out.  But everyone does that, right?  Don’t all of YOU scan your pins and think to yourself, ‘Self?  What in the flagnog* was I thinking pinning a recipe for a dish that contained browned butter?’  DELETE.  That is totally common.  Right?  RIGHT??

What I am particularly fond of regarding these cookies is that they mirror a buttery, crunchy shortbread but are not as fussy.  This recipe for Maple Pecan Shortbread is spectacular and classic with a mild maple flavor.  But today’s cookie recipe has fewer steps, a very pronounced maple flavor, but with that same satisfyingly crispy and crumbly texture that shortbread has.  It is also a great recipe for kiddos to help with.  Smashing cookie dough with a fork dipped in sugar or letting glaze randomly drip all over dessert are both tasks that are right up their alley.  The visual texture and color contrast makes them perfect for a dessert buffet, cookie tray, and a leading candidate for a pretty Christmas gift box for a neighbor.

Just so darn pretty, dontcha think?

*Flagnong will make sense to anyone who saw the movie Monsters vs Aliens.
Maple Pecan Cookies Maple Pecan Cookies Maple Pecan Cookies Maple Pecan CookiesOne Year Ago: Classic Mashed Potatoes (Oooooooh baby!)
Two Years Ago: Sweet Potato Casserole & Maple Orange Cranberry Sauce
Three Years Ago: Spiced Tea

Maple Nut Cookies
Adapted from Pillsbury 
These can be baked and sealed and stored in the freezer if you want to get ahead with your Christmas baking, but don’t glaze them until you are ready to serve them!  They last about 48 hours in a sealed container on the counter before they start to lose their crunchiness.  But the taste is still great!

Cookies:
1 c pecan halves, toasted *see note*
2 sticks (1 c) butter, softened-preferably unsalted
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp maple flavoring
1 egg
2 c all-purpose flour
sugar for pressing

Icing:
3/4 c powdered sugar
1 T milk
1 tsp maple flavoring

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  If you haven’t yet, toast the nuts now.  Cool slightly and chop finely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer or a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy.  Add the egg and maple flavoring and scrape the sides of the bowl, combining the ingredients well.  On low, add the flour and chopped pecans until just combined.  Using a teaspoon or small scoop, portion the dough into 1-inch balls and roll between your hands until smooth.  Place balls on a greased or parchment/silpat lined sheet pan.  Dip a large dinner fork into plain white sugar, and press the dough balls flat in a criss-cross pattern, as you would traditional peanut butter cookies! Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until just barely golden brown at the edges.  Cool slightly on the pan, then remove to a cooking rack to cool completely.  Meanwhile, combine the icing ingredients, being very careful not to over pour the milk!  Whisk together until smooth and just able to drizzle.  If the icing is a bit stiff, add the milk by a few drops at a time until drizzle-able.  Glaze the cookies sparingly by sweeping a spoon back and forth over the top.  If your kids are helping, well, then, just stand by with a damp rag.  Enjoy!

*Note: To toast the pecans, or any nuts you need toasted for a recipe, spread on a sheet pan in a single layer and bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Toss the nuts and toast for another 5 minutes, being careful not to let them burn!  WATCH CLOSELY!  If you can smell the toasted nuts, THEY ARE DONE!!!  Alternatively, you can put them in a dry pan on the stove over low heat, tossing occasionally until fragrant.