Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nostalgia...and Cookies

It was just last week when I was talking to my sister about some of the creative games our grandfather made us from wood.  Unfortunately, the game he made me, is no where to be found.  I suppose my mother passed it on; after all, eight kids in a 3 bedroom home can only hold so much!  Nonetheless, the games kept us busy and unbeknown to us kids, taught lessons in math, strategy, and creativity.

It must be fate, but while I was shopping at Whole Foods today, I came across a replica of the game my grandfather had made for me.  It's by Melissa & Doug from their "Past-Tyme Classics" and it's called Mancala.  I can't wait until my grandchildren are old enough to play it; I still remember all the good times I had challenging my siblings.
Turn off the television and put away the Nintendo.  Bake some cookies and have an old-fashioned Game Night.  I came across this recipe in Classic Southern Desserts by Southern Living magazine. Yes, it's a shortbread recipe, but a few tricks turns this cookie into something even the Scots would find magical. 

Browned Butter-Pecan Shortbread
1 1/2 cups butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Butter Nut flavoring
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups finely chopped toasted pecans (Toast pecans at 350F-degrees for 7-8 minutes. Measure after chopping)

1.  Cook butter in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes or until butter begins to turn a golden brown.  Remove pan from heat immediately and pour butter into a shallow dish.  Do not cover.  Chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.
2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer (or KitchenAid) until creamy.  Gradually, add sugars, beating until smooth.  Add flavoring and mix again.  Add flour, beating at low speed until blended.  Stir in pecans.
3.  Shape dough into 4 (8-inch) logs.  Wrap logs tightly in plastic wrap and chill 4 hours or until firm.
4.  Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Cut logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove to wire rack and cool completely.

The rich flavor of the browned butter, topped with the infusion of toasted pecans makes this a winner.  Enjoy!

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