Well, it’s over. After a speedy procedure between 10:30 and 11:30 this morning, I stumbled hesitantly out of the oral surgery office, with a lot less smarts and a mouthful of stitches. Yes, yes, I just made the classic and corny you-must-be-less-wise-because-you-got-your-wisdom-teeth-out joke. I couldn’t help myself. My innocent little wisdom teeth were yanked from their happy homes; I need some puns for consolation.
The remaining sedative fog burned off on the car ride home, so by the time I walked into the kitchen, I felt pretty good. My face – from my ears and lower eyelids to below my chin – was still cold and numb, so the pain was minimal. Fortified by some ibuprofens, I decided to take advantage of my presumably short-lived comfort by making some cookies. Dad’s siblings and my cousin were set to arrive this evening, and one always wants to have cookies on hand when guests are coming. So, I stuffed a napkin in my mouth to catch my wayward drool (tmi?), strapped my ice packs to my face, and pulled out the mixer. Baking therapy. With a side of fruit juice to keep me going.
And the cookies? They’re delightfully chewy, warmly spiced, and full of nuts and raisins. You can’t go wrong. I first made them before Christmas, and between then and now I’ve whipped up a batch three or four times. I think they’re currently my favorite cookie. Their main flavor is reminiscent of gingerbread, but there are also oats for more texture, golden raisins for tangy sweetness, and toasted pecans for crunch and lovely, nutty flavor.
I have become loathe to include nuts in anything without first toasting them. They just have so little flavor if you don’t toast them; they’re just texture. But once you brown them a bit, suddenly the aromatic oils burst forth and fill the air and whatever dish to which you add them. It’s marvelous! Even the mild almond suddenly develops a personality. A quality raw pecan itself has a strong, woody flavor; add a little heat and it blooms beautifully.
Speaking of flavor, if you try these cookies, do use golden raisins. It really makes a difference. Regular raisins are to molasses as golden raisins are to honey. There’s a brightness, a lightness in golden raisins that you just don’t get with the regular ones. And sometimes I think I can detect just a hint of tartness.
Toasted Pecan Spice Cookies
- 1/2 cup pecans
- 1 + 1/2 sticks butter
- 1 + 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup oats
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven as it heats up, until deep brown a fragrant; time will vary according to oven, so be vigilant and check them every minute.
Using a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until smooth. Add the oats, salt, baking powder, and spices (or combine separately in a bowl and pour into butter mixture) and mix until combined.
Chop the toasted pecans. Fold pecans and golden raisins into cookie dough.
Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes. The cookie will be puffy. As soon as you take them out of the oven, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. They may seem undercooked, but they’ll be fine. It’s okay if they smoosh a little bit when you move them. If you leave them on the baking sheet, they will have crispy, thin edges when they cool.
Enjoy with milk! [Makes ~33 cookies.]