Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Pecan Lemon-Curd Kiss, a new holiday favorite

 It's the most wonderful time of the year for the holiday cookie! Sure, you can walk down the street and see the twinkle of holiday lights strung along people's balconies and lights illuminating entryways to apartment buildings.  The scent of pine will linger at the corner where Christmas Trees, garlands and wreaths are sold, but the best thing about the holidays is seeing and smelling a tray of homemade cookies coming out of the oven.  The most wonderful time of year mean delicious treats homemade with love that will bring bring smiles to faces.

Making and giving holiday cookies is what I like to do.  From the moment the mixer is placed on kitchen counter until the last batch of cookies is pulled from the oven, boxed and ready to give, the mixer remains at attention like a solider waiting for the next cookie to prep.  This year's cookie sampler features the traditional, the reinvented and a new favorite.  The traditional in the form of a sugar cookie with colorful sanding sugar baked on top and cut into shapes of snowflakes, stockings and Christmas trees.  Taking a cue from the candy cane, the chocolate chip cookie received a jolt of holiday flavor -- pieces of peppermint candies. The classic Black & White cookie found a colorful new red velvet bottom and the Linzer Heart cookie was cut into flowers.  Yet while I do love all of the cookies I've made, I do have a new favorite: The Pecan-Lemon Curd Kiss, a  spin on the classic pecan sandy and when Santa comes calling to my house, he'll definitely sit down for this treat!
It's a classic cookie with chopped pecans added to the other dry ingredients and finely ground. Added to the goodness of butter and sugar that's been blended to a light and fluffy state combined with an egg yolk and fragrant vanilla, the cookie is ready for the lemon curd.  I actually enjoy making my own lemon curd; however, this time I did cave in and purchased a good store variety.  If you like the sweet-tart bite of smooth lemon curd and the subtle, soft crunch of a crumbly cookie, this is for you!

Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen Christmas Cookies
Makes 2 Dozen Cookies
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Pecans
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon curd
Confectioners' Sugar

1. Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle position in your oven.  Preheat oven to 350* and line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
2. Into a food processor add the pecans, flour and pinch of salt and process for approximately 45 seconds.  In a stand mixer with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-6 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix-in until well incorporated.  Reduce the speed and slowly add the flour mixture until just combined.
3. Using a small melon-ball scoop or small ice-cream scoop and scoop out dough into balls (approximately 1 tablespoon) and space them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Using the rounded side of a teaspoon, make a small indentation into the center of each cookie and bake until just set, about 10 minutes.
4. Remove the cookies from the oven and gently reshape the indentation.  Fill each indentation with a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon curd.  Bake until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges, 8-10 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.  Dust the cookies with confectioners' sugar before serving.