xmas 2023 - toasted pecan cookies with dulce de leche

During the year I took out a copy of the Beatrix Bakes Cookbook by Natalie Paull from my local library. I love Natalie's use of bold flavours and her clear explanations. I'd hoped to visit her bakery when I visited Melbourne this year only to find it had closed its doors for good just a few weeks earlier.

When I was looking for cookies to bake for Christmas, I immediately thought of the almond jaws or toasted almond cookies with dulce de leche that I'd found in the book. Naturally I made a few changes to the recipe. I had pecans in the fridge so I swapped out the raw almonds for pecans. I skipped the demerara sugar topping and sandwiched the biscuits with pre-made dulce de leche I had lurking in my pantry. I also made the cookies smaller so the recipe yielded 32 sandwich cookies rather than the 16 in Natalie's recipe.

Here’s the recipe for you which 
makes 32 biscuits. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C. The biscuits will keep for two weeks in the fridge or 4 days at room temperature.

Toasted pecan cookies with dulce de leche 
400g tin of dulce de leche 
 salt flakes

230g unsalted butter, diced and cool, not cold
80g icing sugar mixture
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g pecans roasted to golden brown and cooled
300g plain flour
5g fine sea salt
3g baking powder – around ½ tsp

To decorate
icing sugar

For the dulce de leche filling, spoon the contents of the tin into a bowl and mix until smooth before stirring in the salt flakes. Set to one side.

For the biscuits, in a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until soft and white with a paddle on a medium speed. Scrape down the sides twice. This takes around five minutes.

Grind the nuts with about 50g of the total flour amount and set aside.
Mix the remaining flour with the salt and baking powder and then mix in the nut flour.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter, taking care not to overwork the dough but don’t leave any butter streaks as it will cause buttery fissures (not pretty but still delicious) when baked. Do this on low speed for around one minute. Form dough into fat discs, wrap in plastic and allow to rest in the fridge for fifteen minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170°C, conventional and line 2 trays with baking paper. Roll 
out one disc of the dough on a lightly dusted surface to around 3 mm thick. You can roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper but do keep flouring so the dough moves as you roll.

Cut the cookies with a 5cm diameter cutter. Place on a baking paper lined tray and put back in the fridge to firm up before baking. Bake at 170°C, conventional until deep golden all over – around 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat with the other disc of dough. Cool for 10 minutes on the tray before removing to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before filling. 

When cool, either pipe the dulce de leche on one cookie with a large nozzle or spoon and spread with a teaspoon, then sandwich with the top cookie, and lightly press (with a little swirly wiggle) to bring the filling just flush with the cookie edge. Just before serving dust with icing sugar.

These cookies were such a hit with my neighbour's children that they asked if I could make them for this year's Christmas cookie. I was happy to oblige.

See you all again tomorrow with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,


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