bourbon pecan chocolate chunk cookies
1 cup pecans, whole
½ cup bourbon
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Pinch fine sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
Large pinch ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)
6 ounces brown butter, cold and solid
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
3 Tablespoons bourbon
3/4 cup coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, plus a few more for topping
Place the bourbon in a small saucepan and heat on medium heat until it boils down to about half the amount, about several minutes.
Add the maple syrup, butter, and salt, and pecans, and stir while bringing back to a simmer for about 30 seconds.
Remove from heat and stir a little to coat the pecans in the liquid while you line a baking sheet with parchment paper and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
When the oven is hot, transfer pecans to the lined baking sheet including the liquid and place the baking sheet in the center of the oven for about 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and when cool, cover in plastic or transfer to a plastic baggie, setting aside until ready to use.
Brown the butter by placing in a small saucepan and heating on medium and continuing to heat for several minutes, watching it closely until the milk solids turn brown, then immediately transferring the butter including the brown bits into a heat safe bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator until cold and solid before using, several hours or overnight.
Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon or nutmeg, if using, together into a bowl and stir with a whisk several times to disperse all the dry ingredients together into the flour. Set aside.
Chop about 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate coarsely with a combo of slightly bigger pieces and smaller pea sized pieces. You should have about 3/4 cups. Add about ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips to make a cup.
Take about half of the pecans and coarsely chop them so that you still have fairly large pieces of pecans. Reserve the whole unchopped pecans for topping each cookie before baking.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the cold brown butter, making sure to scrap all the brown bits into the bowl. My brown butter was so cold from being refrigerated overnight that I had to put it in a microwave for a few seconds just to loosen it from the bowl it was in.
Add the brown sugar and regular granulated sugar to the bowl. Run the mixer first on low for about a minute to loosen it up. Then run on medium for about 4 minutes until it starts to stick to the sides of the bowl and looks pale.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix on medium, adding the egg, the egg yolk, and the vanilla extract, all in succession, letting the mixer continue to mix the ingredients in.
Once again, scrape down the sides of the bowl and start the mixer again to ensure ingredients are all incorporated. Continue with adding the liquid smoke and the 3 Tablespoons of bourbon, all in succession, while the mixer is on medium. Scrape down the sides again and mix again on medium for another 30 seconds or so.
Remove bowl from the stand mixer and add all the flour mixture at once and stir with a rubber spatula until all the flour is just mixed in and moistened.
Add the half of the pecans that you coarsely chopped along with the chocolate pieces and chocolate chips to the cookie dough and stir with a rubber spatula to mix in.
Reserve the whole pecan halves for when scooping up the dough so you could press them on the tops of each cookie right before being baked.
Cover cookie dough, still in the bowl, with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours to overnight.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. You can probably use less baking sheets, but to ensure that they don’t bake into each other, I used three baking sheets with 6 cookie dough balls per baking sheet.
You can make them any size you want. I used a 1/4 cup to measure, but scooped up slightly less then 1/4 cup per cookie, or about 3 tablespoons worth for each cookie, and came up with about 18 cookies. I arranged 6 cookies per baking sheet, making sure there was at least a 2-inch space between each cookie ball. Press one or two whole pecans and a piece of chocolate chip if you desire.
Bake one baking sheet at a time at about 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned only on the edges with slightly off white looking centers, but not wet looking in the centers. Remove pan immediately from the oven but let cookies sit in pan until they cool, about 5 minutes, before carefully transferring each cookie using an offset spatula to a wire rack to cool completely. Can be stored in an airtight container for a couple of days, or tightly wrapped frozen for a couple of months.
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