Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies

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This is fall wrapped up in a cookie.

Before I lose those of you who can’t stand anything pumpkin spice, you can rest easy because there’s no pumpkin or spice in this cookie just  a whole lot of amazing maple goodness.

When we lived in New Hampshire I discovered maple sugar. OMG. I had no idea there was even such a thing! Yes, it tastes and smells as wonderful as you would think it would. Pure maple syrup in the form of granulated sugar.

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(photo ilovemaple.ca)

I do love pumpkin spice, but even I get bored with it. So while I was going over ideas for our neighborhood block party, I knew I didn’t want my contributions to involve anything really predictable in those types of fall gatherings…like pumpkin spice everything. Plus, it’s a gamble. It’s like cilantro. It’s either a love or hate relationship for people.

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So I settled on my Raspberry & Apricot Pie Dough Pastries and these Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies. The perfect cookie to satisfy my love for all things maple and to get away from the expected.

And then there’s the sugared nuts on top which are a special treat themselves…oh my.

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Maple Sugar Pecan Cookies

For the sugared pecans:

About 1 1/2 Cups of pecans, roughly chopped (You will also need another 1/2 cup of pecans for the cookie dough)

1/2 Cup of Maple Sugar

1/4 Cup of Dark Brown Sugar, packed

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Tablespoons of Dairy Free Butter

Pinch of Kosher Salt

Measure all ingredients into a medium frying pan (non stick!). Cook on medium stirring regularly until sugar is melted (but thick), and nuts are coated, about 7 minutes. Pour out onto a couple of sheets of parchment and immediately separate with two spoons. Allow to cool completely and then break apart the larger pieces. Set aside.

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For the cookies:

(Makes about 32 cookies)

1 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

1/2 Cup of Maple Sugar

1/2 Cup of Packed Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg

1 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract

2 1/2 Cups of Mamas Almond Flour Blend

1/2 teaspoon of Baking Soda

1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt

1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum

1/2 Cup of Finely Chopped Pecans

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy scraping down sides once or twice. Add the egg and vanilla and beat. Add the dry in ingredients and finely chopped pecans and mix until thoroughly combined. Chill for 45 minutes (or longer).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line three baking sheets with parchment. Shape into about 1″ balls and place a couple of inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until set and very lightly browned on the edges. (Don’t overcook or they’ll become too crispy.) Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

For The Frosting:

For the frosting I just used a basic powdered sugar mix with dairy free butter and powdered sugar. About 3 Cups of powdered sugar and about 1/4 Cup of melted dairy free butter. Stir that together and to thin it, instead of adding a little water, I added Pure Maple syrup to get it to the consistency I liked for spreading on top of the cookies. Sprinkle each cookie with a generous amount of the sugared pecans. 

 

Toasted Coconut Pecan Toffee

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2015-12-21 14.13.04

I’m knee-deep in Christmas preparations but never too busy to make a few favorites. I love the Christmas holiday and I look forward to the family traditions we’ve established over the years. One one of them of course, is holiday goodies. This year I veered off the grain free path to make our favorite gluten-free and dairy free gingerbread, sugar cookies, and pie dough cookies.

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I usually make a few different types of candy but just wanted to stick to one this year (maybe two if I have extra time) and settled on toffee. I really wanted to try to use coconut sugar as much as possible in the baking this year as it is one of healthier forms of unrefined sugar.

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I don’t have many toffee prep pictures for you because I burned the 1st batch so I kept an eagle eye on the 2nd batch and kept my spoon moving which made it impossible to take prep pictures. The first batch I didn’t add water and I cooked it the traditional way. Once it started boiling I didn’t stir it and allowed it to get to 280 or so. One second it was looking fantastic and I was sending pictures to my friend Kelly in Florida and to my husband where he was getting the car repaired….and the next second it was smoking and completely separated. It turned ugly very quickly. That’s what I get I guess for sending out pictures and boasting about my beautiful toffee!

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So the second batch I added a little water and stirred it the entire time. I also stayed off the phone and didn’t pay much attention to the thermometer. I just eyeballed it and about 10 seconds before I felt it was going to get too thick and burn I whisked it off the burner and poured it into the pan. Less than 8 minutes from the beginning of when it began to boil. Then I topped it with dairy free mini chocolate chips and toasted coconut and pecans and crossed my fingers that it would set up properly. Thankfully, it was a success and tastes wonderful! The coconut sugar gives it an extra strong toffee flavor and the color is a deep and rich, velvety brown.

Great for snacking and beautiful for gift giving.

Toasted Coconut Pecan Toffee

About 1/4 Cup of Unsweetened Shredded Coconut

About 1/3 Cup of Chopped Pecans

1 Cup of Dairy Free Butter

1 1/3 Cups of Coconut Sugar

1 Tablespoon of Water

1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt

1/2 Cup of Miniature Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

Measure the coconut and chopped pecans into a large skillet and toast on medium heat until the coconut is golden and you can smell the nuts toasting. Set aside. Line a small baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a heavy pan or dutch oven, measure the sugar, butter, water, and salt. Heat on medium stirring constantly. It will take a couple of minutes for the sugar and butter to incorporate. Once it starts boiling, keep a good eye on it and stir it the entire time. You can use a thermometer but with the first batch I did, it was clear that coconut sugar and dairy free butter don’t need to get up to 280 to form toffee and if they do, they will likely burn and separate. I removed mine from the burner when it was getting very thick to the point where my spoon marks were remaining in the mixture as I stirred.

At the point where you pour it out of the pan, you’re going to have to work very quickly. Pour it and then pick up the pan to spread it around. Don’t use a spoon or spatula as it will glob up and stick. Then, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, wait for about 3 minutes and spread them out over the top of the toffee. Sprinkle with the coconut and pecan mixture and chill for 20-30 minutes to set.

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