22 July 2011

Pecan Pillows

Ok...this is big news...there may just be a new contender for my favourite cookie! No disrespect Gran, your's will always be top of course :) But these give me serious pause for thought!

I realise this is my second stuffed cookie recipe in a row, but there's something about that hidden middle that makes me feel like an excited kid again. Especially when you don't warn the happy receiver (as long as you know they don't have a nut allergy in this case...that would be less fun..) and have that excited little internal 'I know a secret that you are about to find out and love me forever' dance whilst expectantly watching their face for a reaction...yes I do this every time, and no it never gets old for me!
Please click any photo if you wish to enlarge it :)

Unlike the Cheesecake Stuffed Cookies, the dough for these was truly a joy to work with. Maybe it was the elatedness of how easily the dough rolled and the filling locked in after my previous experience, but I honestly didn't stop smiling whilst making them! My Mum walked in when I was mixing up the filling and plonking it out on the squished dough balls, and she commented on how lovely it was smelling in the kitchen. This is one wonderful thing about these cookies, before even putting them in the oven both the dough and the nutty stuffing give off such a..well..I can only describe it as a 'Christmassy' sort of smell, its delicious!
Unfortunately a number of my nutty pillows decided to prematurely reveal their contents whilst baking, looking rather less pillow like and much more like something out of a murder scene, but even so they still kept the vast majority of their meant-to-be-secret middle inside, and the bit that leaked out was happily devoured as soon as it cooled enough for me not to burn my fingers by pinching it off (I learnt the hard way, reluctantly)
These really are totalllyyy gorgeous, the cookie part is very much like a buttery shortbread and the inside is a slightly chewy and oh-so flavoursome festive party in the mouth. It would be a perfect christmas cookie, and who doesn't like the idea of having a little bit of Christmas all year round? :) My Ma found them a little sweet so I might reduce the sugar/honey content slightly in the filling next time. These are a welcome addition to the regular cookie crew, and on that note, im off to eat the last few I managed to resist and will leave you with the recipe, if you know what's good for your belly you will try it out

Pecan Pillows
Adapted from Pastry Studio
Makes 18

For the Cookies
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6oz (12Tbsp) cold butter, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Filling
3/4 cup pecans, toasted*
pinch salt
3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp honey
scant 1/4 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the dough: place the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and whizz a few times to mix
Add the butter and pulse until its the size of small rice grains and no large pieces are visible
Add the milk and vanilla, pulse until dough starts to come together and clump
Put dough into a bowl and work it into a ball with your hands
Pat it into a circle roughly 1 inch thick, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight

For the filling: put all ingredients in the processor and pulse a few times until the pecans are chopped coarsely and the ingredients blended. Do not over process, you do not want a paste**

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit a little to become malleable (do not need to leave it long, you could just take it out when you start making the filling)
Portion the dough into 18 equal pieces and shape each into a ball roughly 1 1/2 inches in diameter***
Press your thumb into each portion to form a cup, then continue to press out the ball with your thumbs - going round the edge holding with one hand whilst pressing and turning with the other to keep it a circle - until a disc of dough roughly 2 3/4 inch wide is formed
Place a good half-3/4 tsp filling in the centre of each round, gather the edges together, press to seal them, then roll gently to reform the ball****
Place the balls seam side down on a parchment lined tray, press gently to flatten slightly
Cover the tray in wrap and refrigerate until chilled

Preheat the oven to 325F/170C
Bake cookies, on parchment lined trays approx 1 inch apart, for 20-25 minutes. They should not take on any colour, or very little if so (mine were done and starting to turn lightly golden at 20 minutes)
Cool on a wire rack and dust with powdered sugar when cold

*I found this to be roughly 80g (2 3/4oz). To toast the nuts, spread in a single layer on a plain baking sheet and place in an oven at 350F/180C for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice
**I tried to be really careful here but still over-processed slightly and the nuts were chopped finer than I would have preferred. Next time I would only pulse a very few times and then stir the mix to blend it properly. Or I would pulse the nuts on their own then stir in the other ingredients
***The source used a small ice cream scoop, I cut the dough in half then each half into 9 (just for your interest each dough ball was roughly 26/27g..I do science for a degree, I like to know such things, don't judge my nerdiness)
****They can hold more filling than you might expect, I found this made the perfect amount. By perfect I mean there was enough for all the cookies and about a teaspoon left over for me to dreamily munch

   Tongue twister of the day:
     Pecan Pillow Printable


  1. These are beautiful, Sasha! I just put them on my cookie to-do list. They look delicious.

  2. Thank you so much Mary!! Thats lovely of you to say, I am a little sad I couldnt take better photos to show off their yumminess more, but im hoping people give them a chance anyway :)

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Love this cookies a lot especially with pecans filling on the inside. This will be on my to-do list too :)

  4. These are adorable! Anything with pecans in it has my vote :)

    Hazel x


  5. Pecan Pie is a must on our Thanksgiving dessert table, but I might have to include these as well:) I can't wait to try these!

  6. Thank you so much for your comment!
    You make me feel very welcome and supported.


  7. Did you take the photos yourself, Sasha? They're very well done and I particularly enjoyed the grouping of five where you filled and folded.

    Another yummy sounding endeavor and more of your clever writing. Thanks for telling about the leftover teaspoon that you were able to "dreamily munch". Sounds so much better than my usual "scarfing down".

  8. Thank you everyone, I hope you do give them a shot and enjoy them as much as I did :)

    Kathleen - I did indeed take the photos myself except for the ones where both my hands are in the shot which I got my mum to take for me (i basically was encircling her so i could peer in the display to make sure the angle was ok! :) she found it rather amusing)
    Yeah, dreamily munch is rather a polite way of putting it! It was more scoff in one shot and most literally lick the bowl clean :)

  9. Wow! I sure wish I had one of theses luscious pillow cookies right now with my coffee! I think your Gran would love these too!

  10. Gorgeous recipe and photos! They look delicious!

  11. These are adorable and I love the little surprise in the middle!

  12. Hi Sasha,

    Thanks for visiting my blog. You are also newish to blogging like me. This is so fun, right? These cookies look delicious by the way. I will give it a try sometime.

  13. Oh cute! Love the smiley face. I've never seen stuffed cookies before, it looks yummy

  14. I love your description of why it made you so happy to share these. I can definitely relate!

    I'm diggin' the stuffed cookies, by the way.

  15. I've never made stuffed cookies before but this and your previous recipe have inspired me to try some! Thanks for sharing ;)

  16. These look and sound amazing.

  17. Thanks all! Every comment makes me smile and every one is appreciated so very much.

    @Lisa @ Tarte du Jour Your comment especially touched me, Im sure she would have indeed, thank you so much for your kind words :)

    @tartepink It is indeed! Ive learnt so much but have so much more to learn also. Especially with photography, its something I would love to improve upon so very much :) you have a lovely blog and i will be a regular follower from now on!

    @Kaitlin Thanks Kaitlin! Stuffed cookies are great arnt they :) worth the tiny bit of extra effort in my opinion for sure

    @Kate@Fudgy Goodness To hear i might have remotellyyy inspired any baking endeavours is amazing :) I hope if you do make some they work out fabulously for you (and please pass on the recipe if so! haha)

  18. Looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I'm following now.

  19. @Christine's Pantry Thank you Christine! Thats so lovely of you, I have checked out your blog and it is truly wonderful :)

  20. What a beautiful cookie! These would make a great Christmas time treat!