I’ve never given much thought to pecans. I mean, I guess I liked them but wasn’t over the moon about them. I think I would usually just forget that they even exist until someone mentioned them or I saw a recipe with them. This year, I decided to try a couple pecan recipes to go along with the holidays. Hopefully one day I’ll share my recipe for brown butter bourbon pecan cupcakes with brown sugar frosting (especially the frosting!), but I haven’t quite perfected it yet.
Instead, I took that recipe and turned it into a cookie! Here you have brown butter bourbon pecan cookies, made with lots of brown sugar, nutty brown butter and a little bit of bourbon for extra flavor. They’re not difficult to make, but they require time because they’re best when the dough is chilled for several hours. Chilled dough makes for thicker, softer cookies. The brown butter truly makes the cookie. It gives it a nutty, almost caramel-like taste and the hint of bourbon bring it out as well.
If you prefer to make these alcohol free, you can remove the bourbon and the cookies should still bake fine. You can also replace the bourbon with one additional tablespoon of milk, which is required in this recipe to cancel out the changes in the brown butter. By simmering the butter, it changes its structure, and the milk helps make up for it. Personally, I like using milk in my cookies regardless, but this time it’s a requirement for properly baked cookies. Same goes for the corn starch! You need it to keep the cookies’ structure. I always use corn starch in brown butter cookie recipes (and sometimes others) because it keeps the cookies soft and prevents too much spreading when baked. Now, let’s make cookies!
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp bourbon whiskey
- 2 Tbsp low fat milk
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Chop pecans into small pieces and set side (or purchase pre-chopped pecans).
To make the brown butter, cut the butter into chunks and melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove on medium heat. As it melts, it should begin to foam and you’ll begin to see flecks of brown in the melted butter. You’ll know it’s ready when the color has changed to a reddish brown and you can smell the nuttiness. Remove from heat and pour into bowl without scraping the pan/skillet. Move the bowl of butter to the fridge to cool completely and bring back to a solid state.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of your mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the chilled brown butter for 1-2 minutes until creamy. Add the sugars and beat for an additional 1 minute until well-mixed. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients a little at a time, followed by the bourbon and milk. The dough will still be stiff. Mix in the chopped pecans on low speed until barely combined.
Cover the bowl and move to the fridge to chill for several hours or overnight.
Remove the chilled dough and let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes until soft enough to mold. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Scoop 1-inch balls from the dough, roll and place several inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are lightly brown. The middles will still look very soft and puffy, but they’ll finish baking after you remove from the oven. Let them cool for 8-10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.