Pecan Praline Cookies have become an instant favorite here. Chewy inside, crispy around the edges. Buttery caramel flavor. Toasty, tasty pecans. Complex in taste, yet simple to prep.
I asked Dan why, with all the cookie cookbooks I’ve obsessed over, I’d never run into this irresistible cookie until now. “You travel in the wrong circles,” he replied.
Well, maybe in the past. But luckily now I travel in the same baking circle as Joanne Hofmann Sexeny. She really knows her cookies. So when she recently recommended this winner, I knew enough to stop everything and try it. She called it “one of the best cookies to bake.” Yes, and to eat.
But before you go thinking that “praline” sounds too sweet, keep in mind that no actual praline finds its way into the dough. “Praline” usually means anything from soft caramel to candy crunch. (Like the “fabulous praline experience” that tops Judith’s Busy Day Cake.) Here, the pecans meld with sugar, molasses and vanilla to give the suggestion of praline. These cookies could go under the alias “Butter Pecan Cookies.”
Joanne found this knockout cookie in one of our favorite resources: Savory Magazine. Stop and Shop and some other supermarkets give away this terrific source of great recipes, and anybody can download Savory issues using the free app. You can find the original recipe here
We’ve adapted Savory’s recipe by substituting our usual molasses/white sugar combo for the brown sugar, and by making a couple of tweaks. We also took Joanne’s suggestion and threw in more pecans because, well, why not?
So for a treat that rivals a great chocolate chip cookie, give this a try. You might even elevate it to your Christmas cookie tray—it’s that luscious. And Santa will thank you.
Pecan Praline Cookies
Adapted from Savoryonline.com
Tablespoon cookie scoop (such as the Zeroll 2040, 1 9/16 inch)
- 1 ½ cups pecans
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (You can zap it in the microwave until soft—it’s okay if a little butter melts.)
- 1 ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Toast pecans in a skillet on medium heat about 3-5 minutes, just until fragrant, stirring frequently. Transfer to a bowl to cool completely. Coarsely chop.
- While nuts cool, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, using a hand or a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar and molasses on medium 2-3 minutes, until lightened in color and creamy. Reduce speed to low and beat in egg, then vanilla. Scrape down the bowl and add flour in a couple of additions, beating after each addition until just combined. Fold in pecans.
- Cover and refrigerate dough 1-2 hours. You can refrigerate longer, but the dough will become difficult to scoop.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. By cookie scoop or a heaping tablespoon, scoop dough onto prepared sheets with about a 3-inch gap between cookies and flatten slightly. These cookies may grow to 3 inches or more in diameter. (You may want to test-bake a couple of cookies first to see how you like their consistency. If they come out too thin, add a little extra flour to the dough.)
- Bake 9-11 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and the center is still a bit puffy and moist. Immediately slide parchment paper with the hot cookies onto racks. Let cookies firm up for a couple of minutes, then remove them from the paper to cool completely on racks. Store in an airtight container for a few days, or freeze.
Note: Joanne recommends freezing the scooped cookie dough and baking whenever you want a cookie warm from the oven. We freeze the baked cookies, and they taste delicious eaten right from the freezer. Savory Magazine even suggests making them into ice cream sandwiches.