Rat-a-tat-tat. The intermittent sound of pecans falling onto the tin roof of my office building is almost deafening. From my window, I see my neighbor on her hands and knees, scrambling to pick up newly fallen nuts. Squirrels are foraging for them as well in the shallow ditch along the lane that leads to my house. It’s nearing the end of pecan season, and everyone wants to build up his stash for the winter.
I remember my mother handing paper sacks and baskets to my siblings and me after school and ordering us to pick as much as we could before the sun would set on the early, chilly nights. After supper, Mama cracked the pecans with an old wooden gadget and piled them up in a box on a TV tray. It was Papa’s job to pick the pecans from their shells while he watched his favorite television programs.
By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, the pecans that were carefully stored in our large outdoor freezer were at the ready for making a plethora of delights. Ah, the aromas that wafted from Mama’s big kitchen—roasted pecans tossed with butter and sugar, creamy pralines and chocolate fudge, and pecan pies. My favorite treats were Christmas Lizzies. These cookies as well as pecan tassies (miniature pecan pies) always bring to mind Mama’s friend, Ms. Doreen, who often made these treats for me when I slept over at her house during the holidays. Her home, which is mine now, was small, but it had a fireplace, in front of which Ms. Doreen and I would sit and eat her pecan treats and drink her special hot chocolate. Ms. Doe, as I called her, often lamented that she wasn’t a great cook, but oh, she could bake!
Baking isn’t my strongest suit, but I can make her lizzies, which I often do during the holidays. Now it’s my turn to have youngsters come for sleepovers at my little cottage on the bayou. And by the fireplace is still the best place to nibble on these little pecan-studded cookies.
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- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ cup bourbon
- 1 tablespoon buttermilk
- 1 cup red candied cherries, chopped
- 1 cup green candied cherries, chopped
- 1 cup dark raisins
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 2 cups finely chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 300º. Spray large sheet pans with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on high speed with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, and mix well. Add ¾ cup flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, bourbon, and buttermilk. Mix well.
- In a large bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup flour, cherries, raisins, and pecans, shaking to remove any excess flour. Add fruit and nuts to dough, and mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto prepared pan.
- Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until browned. Let cool completely on pans. Store in airtight containers.
Marcelle Bienvenu was born into a large Acadian family for which good cooking is an article of faith. She is a chef–instructor at the John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University and a prolific cookbook author. Visit her online at marcellebienvenu.com.