Throughout the year, I’ve participated in a number of online food parties. I even hosted a few myself, like the Pumpkin Dinner and Thanksgiving Dinner roundups. With these “parties” everyone makes a dish, takes pictures, and posts about it on the same day. Then the host does a roundup featuring links to everyone’s posts.
These are always enjoyable, and invariably we bemoan the fact that we don’t actually get to try each other’s food. Well, this year a couple of enterprising food bloggers came up with the idea of combining real and virtual cookie exchanges. Thus was born the First Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.
Here’s how it worked: everyone who signed up was sent the names and addresses of three participants. Once I got my names, I baked cookies, packed them up, and mailed one dozen to each of the three people whose names I had received. Then I sat back and waited for a dozen cookies to arrive from three other bloggers.
The cookies I received came over the course of two days. They were all delicious: peppermint sables; candy cane chocolate chunks; and a mixed dozen of molasses, double chocolate, and butterscotch cookies. It was fun making the cookies and sending them off. And of course, getting cookies in the mail made me feel like a kid at Christmas.
This is the final part of the Cookie Swap. We each agreed to post our recipes on the same day, so we could see what everyone made and have all the recipes. At last count, there were 625 participants. That’s a lot of cookies!
For my contribution, I made New Orleans Praline Disks from The Modern Baker. As it happens, these were also one of my designated posts in the Cookies section of the Modern Baker Challenge. I love pralines, so I was excited to find a cookie that has a similar flavor profile.
The cookies were easy to make. I pulsed pecans and brown sugar in the food processor, then beat butter, more brown sugar, and the pecan-sugar mixture with the mixer until it was well combined. I beat in an egg and vanilla, then mixed in flour.
The recipe said to roll a teaspoonful of dough in between your palms, but I found that using a small scoop made perfect dough rounds.
After putting the dough on the pan, I flattened the cookies slightly and sprinkled the tops with chopped pecans.
I baked the cookies at 375°F for about 12 minutes, until they were firm and well-browned around the edges.
I made some crispier than others, and I found I liked the slightly chewier ones better.
These were really delicious cookies. The flavor reminded me of pralines — buttery and sweet, with a strong pecan flavor — although they weren’t as rich as real pralines. But they were a lot easier to make, so I’m sure they’ll be showing up around here on a regular basis.
New Orleans Praline Disks (adapted from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri)
- 1 3/4 cups pecan pieces
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter, very soft
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or Silpat.
- Place pecan pieces in bowl of food processor and pulse until chopped, but not too finely. Measure out 1/4 cup pecan pieces and set aside. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar to the food processor bowl and pulse until well mixed and pecan pieces are finely chopped.
- Combine remaining brown sugar, butter, and pecan-sugar mixture in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add egg and vanilla and beat just until smooth.
- Add flour to bowl and mix on low just until flour is mixed in. Give the dough a final mix with a large rubber spatula.
- Scoop the dough onto the prepared pans with a small cookie scoop, or roll the dough by the tablespoonful between your palms to make a small balls. Space the dough balls about 1 1/2 inches apart.
- Flatten the spheres with your fingers and sprinkle each cookie with chopped pecans.
- Bake the disks in the center of the oven for about 12 minutes for chewy cookies or 15 minutes for crunchy cookies. Cool on a wire rack and store in a plastic container or zipper-top bag.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.