So it’s been almost a week since my first Bouchon Bake. I have endured a weekend of tortuous temperatures at a swim meet for my kid and now exhaustion requires me to bake to stay awake. So I decided to start at the beginning (even though I will NOT be baking my way chronologically through this book). Thomas Keller pays sweet homage to his mother by putting her recipe for these dandy little Pecan Sandies at the very front of his book. Like Keller, my love of baking/cooking/all things kitchen-y came from my mom, so I can totally appreciate this shout-out. And it is well deserved Mrs. Keller!
Let’s talk a minute about butter. It gets a bad name. It’s just really heavily processed heavy cream. But man, it’s good. And there really is no substitute in baking. Now don’t get me wrong, back when I was the “Mayonnaise Monitor”, an endearing nickname given me by hubby’s coworkers, I substituted weird things for butter: applesauce, fig paste, you name it, I tried it. And did my cookies taste good? Did they taste Bouchon? NOOOOOOOO. How could they? Butter is the very foundation of cookies. Just look at this mountain! I did double this recipe, so don’t worry, it was divided between many cookies.
And how about Pecans? Talk about a beautiful creation. I must admit I never bake with walnuts. Once I found pecans, walnuts were literally a bitter memory. Pecans are: (listen up!) buttery. They are delicious raw, toasted, candied and mixed into just about any cookie you can think of. Try them, you’ll never go back. Oh! And don’t they look especially nice in my pretty vintage bowl?!
The line-up of ingredients. No, nothing was left out of the picture; there are just four ingredients in these lovely treats: flour, powdered sugar, pecans and of course, butter. Sometimes simple is beautiful (and delicious).
The mix-up. So incredibly easy. In fact this is what I overheard during the preparation of these cookies (I am NOT making this up):
Boy 1 (perusing BIB): I can’t believe you’re going to make some of this stuff mom, it looks really hard!
Boy 2: Well, mom’s making it. It can’t be that hard!
Thanks, Boy 2. I’m hoping this is more of a “Mom is such a good baker, everything is easy for her!”
You might be asking yourself at this point: Did Mel really measure each ball to weight 30 grams? Yes. Yes, she did. But only out of complete devotion to baking the Bouchon way. I wanted uniform cookies and it was somewhat satisfying to know they were. But for some reason, my cookie balls wanted to be 34 grams, so I had to keep correcting them. And again, how about my pretty bowl? There’s something to be said for pretty things, like blue vintage Pyrex. Makes my baking even more fun.
So then there was the smooshing. BIB said “using a spatula” , but I improvised with a glass (don’t tell), which worked fine. Just goes to show you can improvise some things in baking….
And then came the baking, the golden perfection, the dusting, the gorgeous, scrumptious simplicity of these little cookies. They were perfect: tender, but crunchy short-bread-like dough bursting with chunks of toasty pecans. They were gobbled by kids who had no idea how magnificent they were, whose heads readily and rapidly nodded when asked if they liked the cookies. They were relished by my visiting friend and myself. They will be enjoyed with coffee tomorrow. There were a success.
Stay tuned, it’s going to be a busy Bouchon week. There will be cookies coming out of my ears (for a good cause) and some buttery breakfast banana muffins because bananas are ripening too quickly on my counter.