This recipe for Caramel-Pecan Sticky Bun Cookies is one I pulled from my (kind of large, unfortunately) collection of recipes that need new photos. It’s an old and well-loved recipe for cookies that mimic their sticky, nutty, yeasty namesakes. I suppose they could also be called Pecan Pie Cookies, because the filling tastes like Pecan Pie. As are all good cookie recipes, they are open to variations!
When I first made the sticky bun cookies I made them as Jewish holiday cookies and used honey instead of dark corn syrup and walnuts rather than pecans. For this batch I’ve reverted to the original from Pillsbury’s Book of Baking via Food.com (formerly known as Recipezaar), which uses dark corn syrup and pecans.
Flour and Spreading
The Caramel-Pecan Sticky Bun Cookies recipe is a good example of why we should weigh flour when baking. It calls for 2 ½ cups of flour, which can be anywhere from 320 to 360 grams depending on how the flour is scooped. Years ago when I made these without weighing, they spread like crazy, so I must have used a lighter hand scooping the flour. Also, I think brand of flour affects thickness. I used King Arthur for this latest batch and that extra bit of gluten may have curbed the spreading.
Butter vs. Margarine
Another reason I think this batch spread less was I tested with margarine (tub style Country Crock Plant Butter) instead of butter. Actually, I had to know so I went and made a second batch with butter to compare the two. The butter version did spread a little more. So if you have some margarine or "plant butter" around (maybe there was a BOGO??), feel free to use it in the dough. For the filling, stick with butter.
Just Bungle the Whole Lot in the Bowl...
These are really tasty cookies with an interesting texture -- not really cakey but not chewy and with crispy edges. There are no leavening agents in the dough, either. It seemed like the perfect recipe to "just bungle the whole lot in the bowl" and stir. A British lady gave me that directive years ago for a cake, now that's all I think of when I just stir things together without creaming. At any rate, it sometimes gives you softer, thicker, cookies than when you cream the butter and sugar etc.
Livening Up the Sticky Bun Cookies
Lastly, if you think the cookies aren't exciting enough as Caramel-Pecan Sticky Bun Cookies, you can liven things up with some bourbon. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, drizzle a little bourbon in with the filling and sprinkle tops with chocolate chips. Now you have Bourbon Pecan Pie Cookies. And if you've substituted walnuts, you have Derby Style Cookies!
I'm glad I went back and made the recipe again.
Caramel-Pecan Sticky Bun Cookies
- 1 cup softened butter, salted or CC Plant Butter (240 grams)**
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- ½ cup dark corn syrup
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour (380 grams)
- 1 large egg white lightly beaten with a fork
- 4 tablespoons butter, salted (56 grams)
- ½ cup confectioner's sugar (60 grams)
- 3 tablespoons honey or dark corn syrup (60 grams)
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, plus some extra
- Put the softened butter (or margarine), sugar, corn syrup and egg yolks all together in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed just until blended and smooth. Reduce mixing speed to low and stir in flour.
- Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper and divide it into 4 equal parts. Wrap or cover and chill for at least an hour.
- Remove each dough section one at a time and shape into 9 balls (for 36 total). Keep the dough balls chilled while you make the filling. This is also a good time to preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a saucepan, heat butter over medium until it melts. Reduce heat to low and add confectioners' sugar, dark corn syrup and nuts. Stir everything together and remove from heat. It can sit while the cookies bake.
- Arrange 12 dough balls about 2 ½ inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. I recommend making one sheet at a time.
- Put the sheet in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, brush the dough balls lightly with egg white, then use the bottom of a half teaspoon to make a deep well in the center of each ball.
- Using a half teaspoon, fill the well with nut mixture. Return to the oven and bake for 6 to 9 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are very brown.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.