December 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
I first came across this recipe more than 20 years ago in Sophie Grigson’s recipe column for the Evening Standard. I was delighted to rediscover it recently when I was thumbing through an old copy of her book “Sophie’s Table”.
She recounts how an American friend would send the family a gift of these puffs for Christmas each year and how they would barely last beyond Christmas Eve. They are a crumbly and buttery mouthful, essentially a shortbread but with a delicious pecan and vanilla flavour.
They have a Christmassy feel with their snowball-like appearance and are quick and easy to make. The only slightly fiddly part of the recipe is the rolling in icing sugar and returning to the oven to set the sugar.
They’ll keep for a week or more and so would make a lovely last-minute edible gift.
As an alternative to icing sugar, I’ve recently discovered “snow sugar” on the Bakery Bits website. It’s powdered dextrose plus cornflour and doesn’t dissolve away so bakes retain that freshly dusted look for longer. Ordinary icing sugar is fine though.
Adapted from a recipe in Sophie Grigson’s book “Sophie’s Table”.
Makes about 35.
125g unsalted butter
30g golden caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
150g shelled pecan halves
150g plain flour
icing sugar or snow sugar for dusting
Freeze the pecans beforehand to prevent them turning oily too quickly when ground. Put them into a food processor with the golden caster sugar and grind to a coarse powder without overworking.
Cream the butter, beat in the vanilla extract and gradually work in the ground nut and sugar mix and the flour to make a paste.
Chill the mixture briefly in the fridge to allow it to firm up just a little.
Roll rounded teaspoons of the mixture into balls and set onto baking sheets lined with silicone paper. Space the balls well apart to allow them to bake evenly.
Bake at 150 degrees C fan for 30 minutes until golden.
Allow to cool very briefly then carefully roll each puff in icing sugar, place back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for a further 2 minutes to set the icing sugar.
Cool on cake racks and store in an airtight tin, dusting each layer with icing sugar and separating with sheets of baking paper.