These melt-in-your-mouth Pecan and Maple Thumbprint Cookies literally radiate their maple goodness and make your home smell like heaven. A totally irresistible treat!
Ah, maple syrup. Sometimes I feel like it flows in my veins! A whiff of that beloved sugary golden treat transports me home, instantly. In the spring, we Québécois stock up on maple products like squirrels gathering nuts, for the chance to use it abundantly, in any and every dessert, over the holidays. The flavor of any cake, pie, or cookie laced with maple syrup is improved tenfold, but I think recipes that actually showcase maple products are even better.
These melt-in-your-mouth Pecan and Maple Thumbprint Cookies are the perfect example. Three different maple products are used (granulated maple sugar, coarse maple sugar, and maple syrup), so that they literally radiate their maple goodness and make your home smell like heaven. In fact, they will most certainly overshadow other varieties in your holiday cookie spread, so be prepared and bake several batches in advance!
For the cookies: Combine the flour and pecans in a food processor. Blend until the pecans are finely ground. Transfer the flour and pecan mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in the salt and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer, beat the butter with the maple sugar until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. With the speed to low, gradually mix in the flour and pecan mixture. Gather the dough into a flat ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Unwrap the dough and cut it into four parts. Divide the first part into 12 equal chunks, and roll each portion into a ball. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spacing the cookies 2-in (5 cm) apart. Press the tip of a thumb into the center of each cookie ball to create an indentation. Repeat these steps to create indented cookies with the remaining dough. (If the baking sheet isn't large enough to fit all the cookies, bake them in two batches.)
Bake the pecan and maple thumbprint cookies for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently press the center of each cookie with the end of a wooden spoon to ensure the indentation remains pronounced. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the cookies cool completely.
For the icing: In a mixing bowl, sift the powdered sugar, then whisk in the maple syrup until smooth. If the icing seems thick, whisk 1 tsp (5 ml) milk at a time until you reach the right consistency. (The mixture should be thick so it won't drip, but not dry.)
When the pecan and maple thumbprint cookies are cool, fill their centers with icing and sprinkle immediately with granulated maple sugar, if using. Let the icing for 15 minutes, then enjoy!
STORAGE: Store the pecan and maple thumbprint cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
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