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A match made in heaven: Maple Pecan Triangles

by Vera Dawson
Special to the Daily

Maple and pecans are great companions … you’ll find them together in everything from ice cream to pancake toppings. So, I couldn’t resist pairing them, with some other compatible ingredients, in a cookie. The resulting pastry has a rich, soft base, with a buttery, toffee and brown sugar taste, that provides a background for the real stars, and dominant flavor of the pastry – the maple and pecans. The melding of these ingredients works nicely, creating a moist, chewy and tender bar with an unusual appeal.

The maple syrup is critical to this cookie’s success. So, be sure to use the real stuff: genuine maple syrup, preferably Grade B, which is stronger in taste and far better in cooked or baked dishes than Grade A. It’s available in most grocery stores.

If you have a food processor, you’ll have these cookies in the oven in about 15 minutes, double that if you use an electric mixer. In either case, it won’t take much time to make them.

What could go wrong? Very little, as long as you don’t overbake the dough; the bars won’t be very tempting if they’re dry or hard.

Make in a 9X9 inch metal baking pan

Ingredients

1 (one) cup of all-purpose flour

1-1/4 (one and a fourth) teaspoons of cinnamon

1/8 (one eighth) teaspoon of salt

1/4 (one fourth) cup of light brown sugar

8 (eight) tablespoons (one stick) of unsalted butter, cold if using food processor, room temperature if using mixer

1 (one) medium egg, separated

1/4 (one fourth) cup of pure maple syrup (grade B, preferably)

1/2 (one half) cup of chopped pecans

1/4 (one fourth) cup of commercial toffee bits ( Skor and Heath make these)

Step One: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, with a rack in the center position. Line the 9×9 baking pan with Reynold’s Release no-stick foil, or with regular aluminum foil, letting it hang over two opposing ends of the pan to use as handles when removing the cookies. If you’re using regular aluminum foil, grease it. Alternately, grease the pan lightly with a vegetable spray (spray, then wipe with a paper towel so only a slight shine remains).

Step Two: If using a food processor: Place the cup of flour, the cinnamon and the salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse to combine them well. Add the light brown sugar and pulse again until well mixed and any lumps in the sugar disintegrate. Cut the cold butter into about 16 pieces, add it to the food processor’s bowl and pulse until the mixture looks like course meal. Separate the medium-sized egg, setting the white aside, and combine the yolk and the fourth cup of maple syrup in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add this to the bowl of the food processor and pulse, only until the liquid is absorbed into the rest of the ingredients and a smooth dough is formed.

If using an electric mixer: In a bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, and salt together until combined and set aside. Separate the egg and set the white aside. Beat the room temperature butter, the light brown sugar, the maple syrup, and the egg yolk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat, on a low speed, until a dough is formed.

Step Three: Drop the dough in spoonfuls all over the bottom of the prepared pan. Smooth and level the dough. (Since the dough is sticky, I find it easiest to do this with wet hands or by placing a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and pressing and leveling it through the wrap.) Beat the egg white with a whisk or fork until it is frothy. Brush about half of it over the dough, covering all of it uniformly. Throw the rest of the egg white away or put it aside for another use. Sprinkle the nuts and the toffee bits evenly over the dough and gently press them into it with the flat of your hand.

Step Four: Bake in the center of the oven until the top of the dough is set, it is starting to shrink from the sides of the pan, and it feels firm, but still spongy (soft) to the touch. This takes about 32-36 minutes in my oven. Start checking a little earlier; you want these cookies to be chewy not hard, so don’t overbake them. When done, remove the pan to a baking rack to cool. When cool, cut into triangles. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature for several days.

This recipe was inspired by one in Real Simple.

Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact here at veradawson1@gmail.com.


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