Monday, February 20, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Pecan Chews

Page 110 in the old book / page 149 in the new book

Typically these bar cookie recipes have each called for one or two sticks of butter. I did a double-take when I looked at the list of ingredients for these Pecan Chews - they have no butter in them. I was even more surprised when I saw how they turned out. They are soft, chewy, and (I thought) very good.

The ingredient list for these cookies is actually quite short. They're sweetened with dark brown sugar, flavored with a little vanilla and some instant coffee, and loaded with pecans. Reading through the instructions, I noticed that each step of the way Maida cautions you to "beat only to mix", or "do not overbeat". I was pretty sure that this was the key to the chewy texture - overmixing would incorporate more air and result in a cakier texture. I decided to deviate from the instructions (shocking, I know) and mix these by hand to insure that I wouldn't overmix them. I used a whisk to lightly beat the eggs and then mix in the sugar, vanilla, and coffee; and switched to a spatula to stir in the flour mixture, and finally the pecans. I found this method worked well. I had no difficulty mixing the ingredients and the resultant texture was as hoped for - chewy.

I don't think anyone picked up on the coffee flavor in these cookies, but it was quite noticeable to me. At first I thought it was too strong, but by the second bite it had grown on me. And even though I thought these cookies were very good, I would probably have to qualify that with "for a cookie with no butter". They lack the moistness and heft of a cookie made with butter.

Mixed reviews this week from the panel...

Suzanne: "The name of this bar is precisely correct. The bar or brownie is chocolate**, chewy and crunchy. I didn't feel like there was anything different or unique about the taste. Rating - 3.0"

Denny: "Excellent. The best pecan recipe was last. I'd give them a 4.7 only because they'd be at least a 5.0 with a little bit of chocolate! Rating - 4.7"

Laura: "Moist, chewy, & delicious. Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "Not particularly chewy and while tasty this bar cookie was unremarkable compared to the recent wave of pecan entries. Rating - 2.7"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.6

** Suzanne is mistaken - there was no chocolate in these.

Next week - Aspen Oatmeal Bars

Nutrition Facts


Nupur said...

Wow, a cookie with no butter! This one is a must-try. Although I have to say that pecans are basically butter shaped like a nut, they are so fatty :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy

I dont have that cook book, but would like to try out the recipe. Can you publish the recipe with the proportions?


Nic said...

I'm intrigued by these, especially having recently made a no-butter pecan coffee cake. I'll add them to my to-try list. They look great.

Joycelyn said...

hi cathy, these look awesome! i am, however, in a huge quandary now - thanks to your last three pecan posts (all of which sound and look so unspeakably delicious), i can't for the life of me decide which recipe to make! any advice?

Cathy said...

Hi Nupur! You're right about the pecans - that's probably why I like them so much! At least they have mostly "good" fat - it's mostly monounsaturated and there's hardly any saturated fat.

Hi Anon - I'm so sorry, but I generally do not reprint recipes from cookbooks and particularly not from this book since I'm reviewing every single recipe in it. I recommend the book highly and it's available from Jessica's Biscuit (click on the link for "old book" under the photo) for only $12.98.

Hi Nic! I was too. They're not fat-free by any means with the eggs and a ton of nuts, but it gave me hope that a decent lowfat brownie might be possible!

Hi Jocelyn - thanks! I liked all three and each has something to recommend it, but would have to say that the Georgia Pecan Bars are my favorite of the lot.

Niki said...

Yes, but, butter! Bonus!!
Perhaps the taste of coffee gave Sue the hint of chocolate flavour?

Cathy said...

Hi Niki! I agree - I was happy to have a week off from butter! And I think you're right about the coffee flavor tricking Suzanne into thinking they had chocolate in them - it sure gives them the look of being chocolate in any case!