Monday, August 31, 2009

Savannah Chocolate Chewies

I have a rather unusual hairdressing arrangement. Robin, who cuts my hair, has moved down to Slidell, but she comes up once a month or so to my friend Randolyn's house to cut everyone's hair. Randolyn has a lot of extended family and friends who show up for this event, so there are usually 5 or 6 people hanging around, plus dogs and Randolyn's adorable grandson Gus. We take turns sitting on a barstool, sometimes drinking a glass of wine or a G&T, while Robin cuts and colors and works her magic. Robin always gets a check, of course, but I also always bring baked goods to share around. And so, since tomorrow is haircut day (think I'll get me some bangs), I decided to do some more baking--this time the Savannah Chocolate Chewies.
I could tell that I've made this one before because it had a comment: "Not bad, but not great." Wow, that was inspiring. I could tell why: 1 cup of powdered sugar to 1 egg white. I'm not a huge meringue fan, and these are awfully sweet, even though I dialed back the sugar a bit. But still, they're good enough that I had to stash them away to keep from nibbling :-).
A week or so ago I made French toast that called for 3 egg yolks, and I was smart enough to freeze the whites. I felt pretty smug about that, I have to say. I suppose that you'd have two egg whites left over from the coffee cake, too. But other than making sure you have egg whites, there's nothing to this recipe--it came together before the oven had preheated. I've got them stored airtight now to protect them from the, um, humidity, and I hope that the crowd at Randolyn's will enjoy them. (Yes, Claire, I'll save you a few as well...)

Here's the recipe I made:

Savannah Chocolate Chewies

8 oz. pecans (I used an entire bag of Trader Joe's Dry Roasted Pecan Pieces, which I highly recommend)
3 c. (12 oz.; I used about 10.5 oz) powdered sugar
2/3 c. (2 oz.) cocoa powder
1 T. instant espresso (Maida calls for 1 t. but I thought more would cut through the sweetness)
2 T. flour
Pinch salt
3 large egg whites
1/2 t. vanilla

Heat the oven to 350; line two cookie sheets with parchment. If you aren't using the TJ's pecans, chop your pecans rather fine. Then put the egg whites, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of the mixer and sift in the dry ingredients. This may not be necessary, but I decided to avoid lumps, especially since my instant espresso was looking distinctly clumpy. Then turn on the mixer to low until the dry ingredients are incorporated. I was sure this would never happen, but it did. Then crank up the mixer speed and beat the stuff for a full minute. Take the bowl out of the mixer and stir in the pecans. That's it! Now scoop out the dough, one teaspoon (a dessert spoon) at a time, onto your parchment-lined sheets--I think I got exactly 2 dozen cookies. Maida says to bake these one sheet at a time, but I have a convection oven and it's hot outside, so I put in both sheets and baked for 13 minutes. They should look all dry on the outside. These cookies will never win a beauty contest. Let them cool on the paper for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. After you've nibbled a few to test the optimal temperature, store these airtight and vow to give them away at the first opportunity.

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