Traditional baked goods find themselves popping out of ovens in little bands of sweetness throughout the year, but December is arguably go-time for holiday baking. While home bakers hold dear their tried-and-true recipes, a new cookie is always welcome at holiday gatherings.
During this season, Sue Kakuk, owner of Kakookies (click here for details on her business), prepares two or three holiday cookie varieties with the rest of her lineup filled with other traditional treats, including almond tarts, stollen, lefse and more.
Not only can Kakuk bake, she knows her way around the rest of the kitchen, too. She’s participated in a host of cooking contests, including the Pillsbury Bake Off (twice!), Newman’s Own/Good Housekeeping, Post Selects Brunch Recipe, Cooking Light and more.
Lucky for us, Kakuk shares one of her holiday-time favorites—pecan pie cookies. “I love pecan pie, but some of my family members don’t like the consistency of the pie,” she says. “By creating the same flavors in a cookie format, [it] keeps us all happy and satisfied with smaller portions and healthier ingredients.”
She recommends buying from local producers when possible. “I like St. Croix (Lakeland) brand vanilla extract, and be sure to use pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup made with high fructose corn syrup,” she says.
Pecan Pie Cookies
I love cookies and am always finding ways to secretly incorporate healthful ingredients, yet still be indulgent. Instead of flour, I use nutrient rich pecans, oats and flax meal to create the most delicious gluten-free cookies. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, as they’ll never know! These cookies are so reminiscent of the classic holiday pecan pie; you’ll want to bake them all year long. –Sue Kakuk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz. pecan halves, divided
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1/3 cup ground flaxseed meal
- 1 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 4 oz. of the pecans to a food processor, and grind until fine, like breadcrumbs. (Do not over grind, as it will begin to turn into pecan butter.) The 4 oz. of pecans should measure out to 1 cup ground pecans. If not, grind a few more pecans to equal 1 cup ground. Beat butter and brown sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. With the mixer on low, add the egg, maple syrup and vanilla. Beat for one minute. In a separate bowl, combine the 1 cup ground pecans, quick oats, flaxseed meal and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, scraping sides until well combined. Drop dough using small cookie scoop (or by 1 Tbsp. measure) onto parchment-lined baking sheet (12 per sheet). Gently press one pecan halve onto each drop of dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 min. (A shorter baking time produces softer and chewier cookies; the more they brown, the crispier they become.) Allow to cool 10 minutes on pan. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Yield: 24 cookies
Variation: Pecan Pie Cookie Bites
Place mini paper baking cups in 24 mini muffin cups. Drop dough by 1 Tbsp. into paper liner, press down with pecan halve, and bake for 13-15 min. Cool in the pan for five minutes. Remove them to a cooling rack, and cool completely. This provides a chewier, pie like texture and eating experience.