Tuesday, December 17, 2013

jane's pecan puffs

Growing up, I remember sugar cookies.

My mom and I would roll them out into bells and stars, and then paint them with a lemon glaze. The best part was watching the red and green sprinkles wash into the glaze like a water colour painting.

In the meantime, my dad would be down in the cold room, dousing a fruitcake with dark rum every few days in the couple months before Christmas.

When Christmas finally came, we'd pull out tins and make plates of sugar cookies, Christmas cake, brandy beans, dominosteine, stollen and mandarin orange pieces. For about two weeks, we would make a plate almost every afternoon around coffee time.

Now, Scott and I have different cookies, but we usually keep the brandy beans, the dominosteine and the mandarins on the plate. Sometimes, we add walnut slugs or shortbread or Mozartkugeln. This year, it's pecan puffs and  if I have time  these buttermilk cookies, which remind me of the sugar cookies of my childhood.

My friend Amanda gave me this recipe for pecan puffs in Victoria a few years ago. They were her mother's cookies, she reports, and she likes to make them to remember her mother. So we're calling these Jane's pecan puffs, in honour of Amanda's mother.

I am sure Jane was a wonderful baker because these puffs are fragrant with pecans and so delicate that they almost burst into sleigh bells and all things magic at Christmas as soon as they hit your tongue.

I hope you have time to make at least one batch of cookies this holiday season. I have been putting all my energy into planning special radio shows to raise money for the food bank, but these cookies help me step away from it all and remember that Christmas is indeed coming.

one year ago: hot lemon honey tea
two years ago: spiced ginger mounds and cheesy grapes
three years ago: butter lettuce for a break and tipsy rum balls

jane's pecan puffs

1 1/2 c. pecans
1/2 c. butter
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt (fancy, if you have it*)
1 c. cake flour
     or gluten-free:
     70 g. rice flour
     35 g. cornstarch
     18 g. potato starch
     18 g. tapioca starch
icing sugar, for rolling

Grease two cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Grind the pecans in a food processor (not a blender) until small but not until they become pecan butter. Set aside. If using gluten-free flours, mix them together well. Stir salt into the cake flour or gluten-free flours and set aside.

Cream sugar and butter. Stir in the ground pecans and vanilla. Stir in the flour-salt mixture. Roll into small balls (about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter) and place on prepared cookie sheets. If using gluten-free flours, chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cookies for 23 to 30 minutes, depending on size. Their bottoms should become lightly golden. Once they are cool enough to touch but still somewhat warm, carefully roll in icing sugar.

*I used Maldon sea salt flakes and found it worked very nicely with the pecans.


  1. Stephanie, I found this post before Christmas but only now could write. I found it very inspirational and made the time to bake cookies. I live now near Germany, where the advent time is the very special occasion to make all kind of cookies with all kinds of rich flavors, orange and chocolate being the most important. Too bad my job has the tendency to get extremely busy just before the holiday's season. So, reading your post made me think and I did my best to make the time for the family and have this very special experience of Christmas cookies baking. Was very rewarding.
    Hope you had a great Christmas time?
    I wish you a healthy and happy New year! Much prosperity in 2014!
    All the best