11 Dec Gram’s Pecan Squares #fbcookieswap
It’s The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013 recipe reveal day!
Wahoo! Do a little happy dance!
If you’re a food blogger and you’re not in on this, you should be. It’s been so much fun.
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is a nationwide cookie swap centered around raising money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. When you sign up you donate a small amount to charity (I think it was $3-4 dollars this year), then the magicians over at the cookie swap castle (Lindsay and Julie) match you up with 3 food bloggers from around the country. You then bake your most delicious (and durable) holiday cookies, and ship them to your new blogger friends. And in return, 3 other blogger friends who have been given your name, send cookies to you!
Basically, your mailbox overflows with cookies for like a week. Best. Week. Ever. Make sure you share some with your mail man because I’m sure he will be super tired from lugging around giant boxes of cookies all day.
For my first cookie swap I decided to make Gram’s Pecan Squares. Which are more cookie bars than actual cookies, but they’re damn good so I don’t think anybody is going to rat me out for bending the rules.
The recipe is from my boyfriend Steve’s great grandmother’s collection and were his favorite growing up. I’d actually never had them before I made them for the cookie swap. Risky, I know.
Gram passed away a few years ago so I’ll never have the honor meeting her or tasting her Pecan Squares. And while I know very little about her, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a recipe gal. You know that stereotype that all little Italian grandmas can cook knock-your-socks-off meals through only smell and senses and memories of cooking with their own little Italian grandmas? Without even thinking about a recipe? Well, I’m pretty sure it’s true. And from what Steve tells me, Gram fit the mold quite perfectly.
So, as I looked over the sparsely-detailed the recipe, my baker’s OCD started to kick in. Ruining your boyfriend’s family heirloom recipe when you claim to be little-miss-baker-extraordinaire would be an embarrassment of epic proportions.
But this was no time to cave under pressure. I had cookies to make and blogger friends to feed! Plus, Steve was watching so it was important that I maintained my cool…on the outside at least.
Much to my dismay, my first batch didn’t turn out so well. The chocolate mixed with the melted butter from the caramel layer and never fully hardened, and the caramel layer wouldn’t stick to the cookie layer. BUT when I held all the pieces together and managed to get a bite, I knew I had to keep trying. Because a) I couldn’t shame Gram like that, b) chocolate (!), caramel (!!) and pecans (!!!), and c) Steve was still watching. (Cool, calm & collected.)
As it t turns out, all I needed was a little practice. Batch number 2 (and 3, 4, and 5) turned out beautifully. Yes, I made these cookies 5 times in two days. Cookies for days!
The secret is to let the cookies cool just enough before adding the chocolate layer, so that the caramel layer firms up but they’re still warm enough to melt the chocolate chips. That way the layers stay separate and the chocolate can completely harden as it comes back to room temperature.
I did alter Gram’s original recipe, but only slightly! I added 1/2 tsp of vanilla to the caramel as well as 2 tsp of salt sprinkled over the stop – these guys are rich and the salt is the perfect addition to cut through the sweetness.
Even with my little changes, Steve game me the thumbs up. I think Gram would approve! Hopefully my new blog friends do as well!
You can check out more Food Blogger Cookie Swap Recipes by searching for the hashtag #fbcookieswap. There will be a recipe round up next week featuring the over 500 recipes shipped out by food blogger this year! I’ll post a link to it on my Facebook & Twitter. Make sure you check it out – there will be a little something for every one and it will act as a great resource for your Holiday baking!