Pecan-Praline Sandwich Cookies

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Pecan-Praline Sandwich Cookies

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Published prior to 2008

Pecans or almonds, toffee and chocolate -- what's not to like? Tender, shortbread-texture pecan or almond-scented cookies sandwich a filling of toffee and chocolate; as Sue Gray, our head of product development, said when she was making them, "Why don't we forget the cookies and just dip our spoons into this filling?

She added, "If I need a lot of cookies for the school bake sale, I sometimes make these 'open face' (one layer, not two), and use a star tube to place a dab of filling in the center of each cookie. That method doubles the cookie count to 70! Either way, they're a hit."

Leftovers tip: If you happen to have a little filling left over after you've made your cookies, it's great melted with a bit more evaporated milk or cream and then eaten over ice cream. It can also be rolled into small balls, then dusted with cocoa, and voila! Truffles!

tip: In this recipe the pecans contribute a stronger flavor than almonds will (almond flour is the mildest of all the nut flours). When substituting almond flour for pecan meal, if you would like a noticeable almond flavor, we suggest that you add 1-2 drops bitter almond oil or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.

1 cup (8 ounces, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature but not melted
1 cup (4 ounces) glazing or confectioners' sugar
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 7/8 ounces) pecan meal or almond flour (or other nut flour)
2 1/2 cups (10 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar (for sprinkling over the dough)

2 each (2 1/2 to 3 ounces) Hershey's Skor® bars or Heath® English Toffee bars
1/2 cup (4 ounces) evaporated milk (heavy cream is also an option)
1 cup (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Dough: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light. Add the egg, salt, baking powder and pecan meal or almond flour. Mix together until well-blended, then add the flour and stir until combined. The mixture is a bit heavy, so use slow speed if you're using a mixer, so as not to challenge the mixer too much.

Divide the dough in half, and form each half into a disk. Wrap each disk separately, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or longer.

Shaping: Remove one disk from the refrigerator, and lightly flour both sides. Roll it out on a lightly floured work surface to about 1/8-inch thick. The thinner the dough, the crisper the cookies will be. Note: The dough tends to split if it's very cold while you're rolling it out -- just press it together with your fingers.

Cut the cookies with a 1 1/2- to 2-inch cookie cutter. Sprinkle each cookie with sugar, then place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Repeat this process with the other dough disk.

Baking: Bake the cookies in a preheated 375°F oven for 6 to 8 minutes; don't let them brown. Transfer the cookies from the pan to a wire rack to cool.

Filling: First, freeze the toffee bars; this makes them easier to chop fine. If you have a small food processor or blender, process the candy bars till they're finely ground. If you're doing this by hand, crush the frozen candy bars with a rolling pin into fine pieces.

Heat the milk or cream until bubbles form around the edges. Place the toffee and chocolate pieces in a medium-sized mixing bowl, and pour the hot milk or cream over them, stirring till smooth; if you've crushed the toffee by hand, there'll probably be a few small chunks remaining in the filling; that's OK. Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

When the filling has cooled but is not yet fully set, sandwich the cookies together using 1 generous teaspoon of filling in each; if you're making open-face cookies, use half a teaspoon of filling on each, and pipe it through a star tube. Allow the filling to harden for several hours before placing the cookies in airtight containers. Yield: 35 sandwich cookies, or 70 open-faced cookies.

Nutrition information per serving (1 cookie, 35g): 148 cal, 9g fat, 2g protein, 7g complex carbohydrates, 8g sugar, 23mg cholesterol, 35mg sodium, 51mg potassium, 54RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 18mg calcium, 30mg phosphorus, 4mg caffeine.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 1, Holiday 2000 issue.