Sweet Treats

Recipe—Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with a White Chocolate Carmel Center

We are on Day 2 of 5 of my Christmas Cookie Week! That’s right, this week I will be posting 5 of my favorite Christmas Cookie recipes!

Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with a White Chocolate Carmel Center

This is probably my most requested holiday cookies and definitely one of my faves. If this cookie is in my house, I will eat it. All self control goes out the window. This is a little more advanced than some of my other cookie recipes just because of the number of steps, but they are so worth it! The primary cookie part is not overly sweet, it has a delicious buttery roasted pecan flavor and where the real sweetness comes in is that creamy white chocolate caramel center. These cookies are a total show stopper. They look so pretty and are perfect for the holiday season!

Note: For this recipe I recommend you put the white chocolate caramel sauce into the center of the cookies using a piping bag or Ziploc. I usually just use a quart size Ziploc and cut the corner of the bag off once I have the sauce in it. I find this to be easiest for me and then I can just toss the sticky bag when I am done. However, you can also use a spoon to fill the cookies with the sauce if that is easier for you. The sauce will be very hot on your hands when it comes off the stove which is why I let mine sit to cool for a few minutes before transferring it to the bag. The sauce will harden up as it cools.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c pecans, chopped
2/3 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c flour
3/4 c caramel sauce (the kind you would put on ice cream sundaes)
1 1/2 c white chocolate chips

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • Stir together the chopped pecans and 1/4 cup of the butter.
  • Spread the nut and butter mixture evenly on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the pecans for 10–15 minutes making sure to stir them around half way through.
  • Remove the roasted pecans from the oven and allow them to cool.
  • While the pecans are cooling, using an electric mixer, beat together the remaining 1 cup of butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until nice and smooth.
  • Mix together the flour and roasted butter pecans.
  • Gradually add the flour and pecan mixture to the butter and sugar mixture until well combined.
  • Roll the dough into 1 1/2″ balls and place about 2” apart on parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 minutes and remove from oven.
  • Using your thumb, or something of a similar size (I use the end of a cocktail muddler but the back of a teaspoon would work too) make a deep indentation into the center of the cookie.
  • Place the cookies back into the oven to continue baking for another 6­–8 minutes.
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool.
  • In a small sauce pan, heat the caramel sauce over medium low heat.
  • Gradually add the white chocolate chips while stirring with a small whisk or fork allowing them to fully melt. Make sure you do not burn the sauce!
  • Once the chips are fully melted and your sauce is a nice smooth consistency, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Allow the sauce to cool for 5-8 minutes and transfer to a piping bag or Ziploc bag. (If using a Ziplock bag, you will want to cut a small tip off one corner.)
  • Pipe the white chocolate caramel sauce into the center of each cookie making sure not to overfill them.
  • Allow the cookies to rest for an hour so that the filling will fully set.
Dinners

Recipe—Honey Pecan Crusted Salmon

I remember when I was younger going to a restaurant with my dad and ordering the honey pecan crusted salmon. It was one of those dishes you never forget. It was unlike anything I had ever had before. The pecan crust brings a wonderful texture to the salmon filet, just the right amount of crunch. And that nutty pecan flavor with the sweet honey mustard glaze turns the ordinary salmon filet into something truly wonderful. While this dish may look more complex it actually is a really easy way to prepare salmon. Between prep and baking you are looking at no more than 30 minutes. Thirty minutes for a spectacular dinner, you can’t beat that! I served this with a really simple salad of butter leaf lettuce and red onions and some honey mustard dressing. It was really light and the simple salad was a perfect complement to the savory fish. Even if your family members aren’t big fish fans I’m sure they will love this.

INGREDIENTS
2 salmon filets
salt and pepper
paprika
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c pecans, finely chopped
1/4 c fresh parsley chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Rinse off your fish filets and pat dry.
  • Season your filets with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • Place skin side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Whisk together the mustard, honey, butter, and Worcestershire.
  • In a small bowl combine the pecans and parsley.
  • Spoon a tablespoon worth of the sauce in with the nuts and stir to combine.
  • Brush the remaining sauce onto the salmon filets.
  • Press the sticky pecan mixture to the top of your salmon filets.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 15–18 minutes or until the thickest part of the fish flakes off when tested with a fork.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Pear and Pecan Crisp

I have these fabulous friends who always have loads of fresh fruits and veggies on hand and I am lucky enough to have them share with me. The other day when I was visiting they had palettes of beautiful golden pears and I was fortunate enough to score some. Saweeet! I waited until the pears were perfectly ripe and then I created this delicious pear crisp for an office party. (My coworkers are so lucky to have me!) It was really a hit and super easy to make. Most people expect apple crisp when they see something like this so the pears are a pleasant surprise. They really were so sweet and packed with juice. Rather than an oat topping like many of my crisps, I made this with a streusel topping. This is a perfect fall dessert. I think I may be serving it up come Thanksgiving!

FILLING INGREDIENTS
5 large pears, cored and diced
2/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp salt

STREUSEL TOPPING INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c pecans, finely chopped
1/2 c butter (1 stick), melted

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine all the filling ingredients, pears, sugar, and salt. Set aside
  • In a separate bowl stir together the following topping ingredients flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans.
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the dry ingredients stirring while you go until it is evenly combined. The mix should be nice and crumbly.
  • Pour the pears into a large greased baking dish (7″ x 11″ worked great for me) and top with streusel crumbs.
  • Bake for 30–35 minutes or until the topping just begins to turn a golden brown.
  • Serve warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.