The hunt for new Christmas cookie recipes has started. I love giving bags of cookies to friends and family and to make it fun I try new cookies every year. My stack of Christmas cookie magazines increases every year, so does the list of delicious cookies I tried. I like to choose cookies that have interesting texture and color so when paired together they visually please the eyes. I love making small cookies, almost like miniature, so you can taste more than one and don't feel guilty. These are keepers.
The first new recipe I tried this year comes from the book A Passion for Desserts by Emily Luchetti, a simple and delicious pecan short bread. Emily is the executive pastry chef at Farallon and Waterbar restaurants in San Francisco, and has published many amazing books, and has also been writing a blog for years (which I just discovered, not sure why I didn't find it earlier, she is one my favorite pastry chefs).
I will definitely make these cookies again, they are buttery shortbread cookies, studded with pecans, and they melt in your mouth. The only drawback is that they are a little too fragile and crumbly, maybe adding a tad less butter would help. They are not too sweet, and don't they look great as ice cream sandwiches?
Since I had some pears that needed to be used and some left over caramel sauce I decided to try the ice cream recipe that was paired with the cookies in the book. I used the most amazingly colored crimson pears I have ever seen, which I bought on a whim, just for the color.
|Isn't the color amazing?|
The ice cream is delicious, the flavor of the pears is intense, and the swirls of caramel bring it to a different realm. However I decreased the sugar by a 1/4 cup and it was still too sweet, maybe it was the omission of the pear liquor, which Emily adds in the recipe but I didn't. The ice cream was perfect paired with the cookies since they are really not sweet at all.
You can find another pear ice cream recipe from David Lebovitz clicking on the link.
Pear-Caramel Swirl Ice Cream
adapted from Passion for Desserts
Six ripe pears (about 3 pounds)
3/4 cup plus 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup cold Caramel Sauce
Peel, halve, and core the pears. Slice them 1/2 inch stick. Cook the pear slices, 1/3 cup of the sugar and the lemon juice over medium heat, until the pears are soft and the juices have evaporated. Let cool for 10 minutes and then puree until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.
In a bowl, whip the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar. Bring cream to a boil, then pour onto the yolks to slowly temper them until they are thickened into a custard. Immediately strain and add the cold milk. Refrigerate until cold. Stir together the pear puree and the egg custard. Freeze according to your ice cream maker. (Note: the yield is more that my ice cream maker could freeze, so I had to freeze in two batches).
3 1/2 ounces butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup pecan pieces
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth, 30 seconds. Add the flour, salt and pecans. Mix just until combined. Roll dough into a log, 1 inch thick, using a sheet of parchment paper. Chill or freeze until hard. Pre-heat oven to 325F, cut log into 1/4 inch thick slices, place on a paper lined baking sheet and bake until light golden. Let cool.