The weather here in DC has taken a distinct turn towards fall. The air is cool and crisp and the days are getting shorter. For some reason, I consider pecan pie to be a fall food (maybe because I associate it strongly with Thanksgiving), and so last night I decided to make a sort of cookie version, Caramel Pecan Cookies.
This recipe involves a butter cookie crust that is pressed into the bottom of a pan, chilled, and baked. The baked crust is then topped with a homemade caramel pecan mixture and the pan goes back into the oven until the caramel is bubbly.
I was a little scared to make the caramel. It involves melting one and a half cups of granulated sugar on the stove until you get a dark brown caramel. Then you add a cup of heavy cream, at which point the caramel hardens into a solid disk. You have to dissolve the solidified caramel into the cream, before finishing the topping with butter, vanilla, salt, and pecans. To me, this method seemed to have a high likelihood of creating burnt sugar, but much to my delight, everything worked out fine (although it did take about 30 minutes altogether for me to make the caramel). And boy, was that caramel worth it. The flavor was deep and rich, much better than pecan pie. The bars came out beautifully and the caramel was delightfully chewy. Mmmmm, fall!
Recipe: Caramel Pecan Cookies from epicurious.com.