As we are approaching March and all diet restrictions are out the window, I thought it was about time for something sweet! I had some squishy medjool dates which were calling my beckon and I fancied a biscuit with pecan nuts. So I was on a mission to find a recipe from my stack of baking books! I came across this delicious sounding recipe from one of my favourite books ‘Short and Sweet’ and baker – Dan Lepard.
This particular recipe used walnuts but I swapped these for pecans, which work well with dates, so – ‘Pecan Chocolate Cookies’ were born! Also I made a few other tweaks; reducing the vanilla extract and using salted butter. I would possibly slightly reduce the sugar levels next time, try and see what suits your own personal taste! You can also experiment with various combinations, adding chocolate chips, sour cherries, raisins or various nuts. The worlds your oyster!!
If you have a love of baking like me, no doubt you will tend to bake your favourites. So on this occasion I was excited to try a new recipe, and just love when it exceeds my expectations! I must say these biscuits are or (were!) totally delicious, chewy in the centre, with a toffee and nutty flavour. The use of dates brought them to another level and they are definitely up there with my favourite bakes!! If you love toffee, chocolate and nuts then get baking! You will not be disappointed!
Also if you follow a gluten-free diet then these cookies are perfect as they use cornflour instead of regular flour, making them lighter in texture. However, don’t be fooled into thinking they are healthy! We all need treats occasionally, and weekends are a perfect time to enjoy baking.
Pecan Chocolate Cookies
100g finely chopped dates
100g salted butter, softened/melted
125g brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g pecans, roughly chopped
a pinch of salt (optional)
Put the dates in a bowl, cover with 50ml of boiling water and steep for 5- 10 minutes. Add the butter and both sugars; beat until light and smooth, and with the soft dates mashed evenly throughout.
Add the cocoa and vanilla, beat again until smooth, add the cornflour, baking powder and soda, and beat well. Now mix in the pecans.
Line a tray with nonstick baking parchment. Use your hands to roll into balls, approximately 40g, then press these lightly on to the tray, spaced 5cm apart.
Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan-assisted)/335F/gas mark 3 and bake for 11-13 minutes. Keep an eye as you don’t want to over bake the cookies, as they are best with a soft chewy centre. Leave the cookies on the tray for five minutes, to cool slightly (if you can resist!) and firm up, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining mixture, store it in a tub in the fridge for a few weeks, or roll it into a log, wrap in clingfilm and freeze.