Thomas Keller Visits the Test Kitchen (and Makes Us Pecan Sandies!)
Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel, co-authors of the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, popped into our Test Kitchen and treated us to a batch of homemade Pecan Sandies. The book is a wonderful collection of all-American desserts and classic French pastries, laced with sweet anecdotes from Keller. The buttery, crumbly Pecan Sandies were one of Keller's mother's favorite treats (the Keebler variety, to be exact).
We couldn't help but hit up the French Laundry chefs for a few baking tips while they were here. Here's what they harped on:
- Although it may seem easier to measure with measuring cups and spoons, measuring by weight is far more accurate. That's why their cookbook includes gram measurements for all ingredients (in addition to cup and spoon measurements). Inexpensive scales are very accurate and will transform your baking from good to great. Also, when you use a scale, it turns a baking recipe into a one bowl recipe! No need to fuss with measuring cups or spoons.
- Don't lay cookies on a baking sheet in straight lines; instead, lay them in diagonal lines. This way, hot air will fully surround each cookie for more even baking.
- Use heavy baking sheets. Thin, flimsy sheets are don't conduct heat evenly and can lead to inconsistent results.
Hands-on time 20 min. Total 45 min.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams)
¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans (80 grams)
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (170 grams)
¾ cup plus 2 tsp. powdered sugar (90 grams)
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Toss together flour and pecans in a medium bowl.
2. Beat butter at medium-low speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar, and beat 2 minutes or until fluffy, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture, and beat at low speed 30 seconds or just until combined.
3. Shape dough into 2-inch balls; place 1 ½ inches apart on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten each ball into a disk.
4. Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until light golden, placing 1 baking sheet on oven rack one-third down from top and 1 baking sheet on oven rack one-third up from bottom.
5. Cool on baking sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and cool completely (about 15 minutes). Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Recipe adapted from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook.