Salty Sweet Can't Be Beat!
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am a fan of treats that are salty sweet. A few weeks ago, I told you about the chocolate covered sea salt caramels that I made for Christmas (see my November 27, 2015 post). I don't mind telling you that those caramels got rave reviews!! They are definitely going to be a regular addition to my holiday list. Before that, in June, I discovered a potato chip cookie with chocolate chips which is fabulous. (see my June 12, 2015 post).
Today, I am going to show you my all-time favorite salty sweet cookie- Salty Sweet Butter Pecan Cookies. This crispy cookie is chock full of butterscotch chips and toasted pecans before being rolled in a coating of sugar and table salt. While you can bake these gems as soon as you mix the dough, I highly recommend refrigerating the dough first. Refrigeration will both build flavor and inhibit the spread of the cookie in the oven, yielding a chunkier cookie. For a full explanation of the varying results that you can get with this cookie depending on whether the dough is chilled and the amount of time it is chilled, be sure to read the post on this cookie written by P.J. Hamel of King Arthur Flour. I choose to refrigerate my dough for about 24 hours before baking so these cookies are a two day event for me - day one: mix and chill; day two - scoop and bake. Let's get started, shall we?
Before mix your dough, you want to lightly toast about 1-1/3 cups of pecan halves. I prefer to use chopped pecans instead of the pecan halves. Use what your prefer or have on hand. Set the toasted nuts aside while you mix the dough.
Cream together 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed, 2/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter, 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 3/4 teaspoon vanilla-butternut flavoring and 1 teaspoon of vinegar (cider or white, whatever you have). Beat these ingredients together until smooth.
As you can see from the above list, this recipe uses two "specialty" ingredients - espresso powder and vanilla butternut flavoring. The espresso powder does not make your cookie taste like coffee. It just adds nice caramel brown color. The vanilla butternut flavoring is not essential to the recipe. You can make the cookies without it BUT your cookie will NOT taste as good. Period. You can find this flavoring on KAF's web site and also on Amazon.
Add in a large egg and beat it into the dough until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl then add in 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Mix until fully combined then add in the toasted pecans and 1-1/3 cups of butterscotch chips. Please forgive me while I pause for another moment to comment on an ingredient which will make a difference in the final cookie.
In my opinion, the best butterscotch chip out there is made by Guittard. The flavor and texture of Guittard chips are better than any other butterscotch chip I've tasted. They are hard to find in the store. I used to order them from King Arthur Flour until they stopped carrying them. Now I order them on Amazon. I have made this recipe using different butterscotch chips and I could taste the difference. The cookies were just ... okay. Not great like I know they can be. So, if you can get them, I recommend using Guittard chips. (Note: this is simply my opinion. I am not being paid or compensated by Guittard.) Okay, back to the dough.
After mixing the dough, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-5 hours and up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and mix your coating. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1-3/4 to 2 teaspoons table salt. If you really love the salty sweet combo, use the 2 teaspoons of salt; use the lower amount if you want the salt to be less assertive.
Scoop the dough into tablespoon sized balls (I use my tablespoon cookie scoop!) and roll them in the sugar/salt mixture. Place the coated balls on the cookie sheet and bake about 12-1/2 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are a lovely chestnut brown and the tops are golden. Cool the cookies on the pan for about 3 minutes before removing them to cool completely.
Here's the baked cookie. I wish you could smell it - all buttery, vanilla-y, nutty. And the flavor - yum!! No kidding, these salty sweet butter pecan cookies can't be beat!