Well. About that. Apparently, I’m a big fat liar. I apologize. If it helps, it’s a definite possibility that my pants are in fact on fire.
See, here’s the thing. I’ve had a really great first week of NaNo-ing. Really great! I’m currently a mere seven days into this journey and I am sitting at a comfortable 18,000 words. Only 32,000 to go! It’s been a ride so far, I tell you what! I really didn’t think it was possible for a pile of words to be as crappy as last year’s NaNo, but I’m really out doing myself this year. I’m telling you, this novel is ripe with suckdom. But, I shall press on. Because that’s what NaNo is all about. It doesn’t have to be good…it just has to fill up 50k. And I’m well on my way to reaching that goal for the second year running!
So. Since I am sitting at a comfy, cozy, cushy almost-20k, I decided to take a little break and treat myself to a little blogging. And a couple cookies! See, no willpower. Cannot.Stay.Away.From.Blog. And I can’t really stay away from these cookies either, so I guess it’s just one of those days. One of those Give in to All Your Cravings kind of days.
Man, I love those days!
Now, let’s talk about these cookies. Or as I like to call them – Cinnamon-kissed Crescents of Pure Christmas Perfection.
Oops! I said Christmas. Oh man, it’s only November and I let the C-word slip. I’m sorry. That was wrong. I hope my punishment is a few more 70 degree days like we had today and not an early blizzard. I promise I won’t say Christmas for at least another three weeks if we can squeeze out a few more nice days, k? Awesome.
The reason Christmas came to my kitchen a bit early this year is not because I’m just really excited about hearing Willie Nelson’s version of that Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons song I hate so much or because I’m anxious for a repeat of last year’s Looking All Over Town and Can’t Find Season 1 of The Office on DVD gift shopping fiasco. Although both those sound tempting…
No. The real reason is my local paper is having a holiday cookie recipe contest. And I wanted to enter. Specifically, I wanted to enter these. Seeing as I have never actually made them myself, I decided a trial run before entering the recipe was probably a good idea. Plus, I needed to take a drool-worthy photo to submit along with it. Oh, and I was quickly running out of time, as the deadline to enter is Tuesday.
So yeah, Welcome, Christmas! (Don’t all the Whos in Whoville welcome Christmas even though the Grinch stole all their decorations and trees and things? They totally do – take a lesson from Cindy Lou Who…you don’t need Christmas “things” for it to be Christmas! So if I want it to be Christmas on the 7th of November, then so be it!)
It just wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without Stellas. They have been gracing (the same) cookie tins in my family for as long as I can remember – one of my mom’s gold standards. Right there along side her insanely tender and delicious butter spritz cookies and her knock-your-socks off, to-die-for kolache. (Except for the prune ones. She can keep the prune for herself. Ha. 😉 ) As I kid, I’d watch my mom roll, cut and shape dozens and dozens of Stellas, just waiting for the chance to grab one, warm from the oven, to pop into my mouth.
They bake up so flaky, so light, buttery and golden brown, you’d swear you were sinking your teeth into a delicious pastry. Pair that with warm cinnamon-sugar and delicious, crunchy pecans and you’ve got yourself one amazing cookie that has the holidays written all over it.
These are a true labor of love, as they are a bit time consuming to make. Not only do you need to chill the dough overnight before working with it, the cutting and rolling of each individual cookie does take some time. It is well worth it though, just trust me. They are addicting. And, take it from someone who knows, they are phenomenal first thing in the morning. For real. All too often growing up, I’d get up after sleeping in over Christmas break and help myself to a couple of these for breakfast. And a couple more after lunch. And after dinner, of course…
Ohhh. See. Willpower. I Don’t Gots it. You won’t either after you try these! Consider them for your holiday treat trays this year. (You’re planning already, aren’t you? Yeah…that’s what I thought. 😉 )
STELLA COOKIES (Recipe Source: My mom, Nadine M.)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups finely chopped pecans
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Sift flour into a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fingers until crumbly. Stir in sour cream, working the dough with a spoon until it just holds together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least six hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Combine pecans, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
- Divide dough into four equal parts. Working with one part at a time, shape the dough into a ball. Dough will be quite soft and sticky. Leave the remainder of the dough refrigerator until ready to use.
- Sprinkle work surface with flour, then heavily with granulated sugar. Roll out the dough into a round slightly larger than 8 inches across (dough should be quite thin). Using an inverted salad plate as a guide, cut an 8 inch circle out of the dough. Refrigerate the scraps for later use. Cut the circle into 8 equal wedges.
- Brush the entire circle with the beaten egg whites. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the pecan mixture over the circle. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge and shape into a crescent. Place one inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough quarters. Form leftover scraps into a ball and repeat as above.
- Brush the tops of the cookies with remaining egg whites and sprinkle with remaining pecan mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. (Check them after 15 and keep a close eye on them. They seem to go from looking not quite done to overdone in just a minute or two. I should know. I burned my first batch. HA!) Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving, if desired.
Yield: About 5 and half dozen
A few words of wisdom about this recipe:
- Resit the urge to sub reduced fat or fat free sour cream in this recipe. Really, just don’t do it. You’ve already committed to three sticks of butter, might as well just keep the Full-Fat Train a-movin’ and go with the real stuff. I think you really need the thick, hearty texture of full fat sour cream to give your dough the right consistency and keep it together. The other varieties are going to change the texture way too much.
- Do not be shy with the flour and sugar for rolling! The dough may seem hard, cold, and almost crumbly when you first start out rolling but it will get soft and sticky REALLY quick at room temp. Make sure your surface and rolling pin are well floured and sugared so the dough doesn’t stick.
- Try using a metal pizza cutter to cut your circle and wedges. It won’t stick to the dough or pull it out of shape like a knife will. Perfect circles and wedges, every time, guaranteed!
- When shaping the cookies, make sure the pointed edge of the wedge is on the bottom. They will keep their shape better while baking. I found that when the pointed was on the top of the cookie, they tended to open up in the oven and not look as pretty.
- The cookies will probably grow “feet” of egg white and melted sugar in the oven while they bake. If that happens, as soon as they come out of the oven, grab a knife and start pulling the sugar puddles away from the edge of the cookies – it will be soft and pull away easily. Work quickly, as the sugar puddles will harden fast, even on a warm cookie sheet. You’ll end up with cleaner edges this way, instead of having to break off the hardened sugar after the cookies cool.
Pssst. Merry Christmas. Pass it on!