Pecan-maple cookies

by Sarah on March 15, 2012

pecan maple cookies

Pancakes drenched in maple syrup; just another ordinary New York morning lost to time and distance. Then a smell… a taste nudges a forgotten synapse awake in a ting of recognition. A cascade of memories, tiny bubbles dissipate as soon as they surface…  Enough to recall, yet not enough to grasp.


It is a New England version of Proust’s madeleine, a dainty cookie that swept him back to childhood at the first bite.  If I could put thoughts to words it would be a random clatter, a reunion among newly awakened neurons. “Remember eating that pecan maple roll while biking in the Catskills?” “We never did stop at the maple farm on the way to Slide Mountain” “’I’d do anything to smell the autumn woods” “Will I ever see the sun shining on an ice coated forest again?” In reality, it can’t be translated but only felt.

pecan maple cookies

Then I’m back in my kitchen in Israel with a bottle of Vermont’s best, an empty spoon in my hand. It was a souvenir of last summer, bought on the final leg of our great Elk-Mobile trip, in a place we never heard of and will never forget. The clerk, straight backed and acerbic, gave us a “you break it you buy it” in lieu of a welcome.  She had already marked us as browsers, with our campervan clothes and rowdy kids. But when items started piling near the cash register, a transaction imminent she softened her tone.

pecan maple cookies

“Don’t buy grade A if you want flavor. It’s the first syrup of the season and the ground hasn’t had a chance to thaw yet. “ She continued “The ground holds all the minerals and when that gets drawn up into the tree it effect the flavor the syrup” We bought grade B, dark amber,  a glowing liquid flowing with stories of the land. Like wine, each year the syrup, even of a single tree changes its character depending on rainfall, temperature, sunlight and method and time of harvest. Who knows, perhaps even the rotation of the stars. If they grew sugar maples in France they’d call this terroir, but here they call it Vermont Maple Syrup.

Sadly, we’re almost out, even after strict rationing and licking the plates clean. I’ll have to go back to that shop somewhere in Vermont, to bring back a couple of bottles and perhaps a few more memories.

pecan maple cookies

Pecan-Maple Cookies

Although the pecan- maple combination is typical of the North East, we never made them while growing up. Pecan trees, incidentally, have acclimatized to central Israel despite being endemic to south-central North America. There are several trees growing in my neighborhood and the crows have found ingenious ways to crack them. They sit on an electric wire over a road and drop it from their beaks, the pecan snapping open as it hits the asphalt.

This recipe was adopted by Carine Goren from her book Sweet Secrets. Although this is not a layered cookie, it can be enjoyed as one; first the soft sweetness of the powdered sugar, a flurry of snowflakes on lips and fingertips, then the crunch of the pecans and finally creamy, indulgent butter.

200 grams butter, softened (don’t use margarine, it’s just not the same)

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour (280 grams)

Pinch of salt

200 grams roughly ground pecans (about two cups)

For the coating

About two cups of powdered sugar

  1. In a mixer or my hand, blend the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and vanilla until creamy.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix until incorporated (too much mixing toughens the dough). Add the pecans and continue to mix until uniform.
  3. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes so it hardens slightly and is easier to manipulate.
  4. Preheat oven to 170⁰C.
  5. Take a pecan size piece of dough and roll it between the palms of your hands to create a small ball, about 3 cm across. Set on a baking tray lined with parchment paper making sure there is space between each cookie. When all the dough has been rolled, bake for about 20 minutes. The cookies should still be light colored with a hint of gold.
  6. Cool completely and then roll in the powdered sugar. Store in an airtight box at room temperature.

pecan maple cookies

Interesting maple facts and links

Frog run is the last sugar sap harvest of the season, so called because of the sound of chirping frogs coinciding with it.

According to Native American legend maple trees once produced pure syrup until the god Ne-naw-Bo-zhoo, decided to dilute the sap. He thought the syrup was too easy to gather and would not be appreciated.  (this piece of folklore was written on a pamphlet given to me from the shop)

Yael visits a maple farm in Canada in her post Memories of maple.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Nisrine March 15, 2012 at 10:07 am

I do love both pecans and maple syrup. These are very tempting cookies!


Rosa March 15, 2012 at 10:35 am

Oh, so tempting! Those cookies must be heavenly.




Sarah March 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Thank you Rosa!


Gayle March 15, 2012 at 3:23 pm

I love maple syrup. Supposedly the season is now…let me know if I can send you a bottle…Grade B of course!


usha March 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm

These cookies look really good and they’re easy enough to make.
No maple syrup or pecans available here so I shall have to substitute with honey and walnuts.
Are those leaves shamrock ? There is a similar wild herb called the Yellow Wood Sorrel that puts out the minutest yellow flowers. The greens feature in Ayruvedic medicine. The leaves are gorgeous when pressed and make lovely cards and such.


Sarah March 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Usha, If I was making this using local ingredients I would probably replace the maple syrup with date syrup, the flavor would be different but still very good. The plant is Oxalis pes-caprae L. (wood sorrel), edible with a very sour taste. Too much isn’t recommended because of the high oxalic acid content. There’s a picture of it in my post about foraging-


Eha March 15, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Sugar, I live in a real ‘birdie’ area – can I trust the galahs and sulphur-crested cockatoos to break the pecans? No way, they’d be off in no time flat with their bounty :) ! OK: am not a cookies girl either baking or eating, but these look fantabulous!!


Sarah March 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Eha, Thanks! The crows here are huge and not to be messed with (they will attack when provoked or think their young are in danger), funny to think a little cockatoo trying to break a pecan in its tiny beak.


Eha March 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Sarah dearHeart – You better visit Australia :) The sulphur-crested cockatoos are nearly a metre high, with a wingspan twice that. They have a most terryfying scream, oft used, and one definitely does not ‘mess’ with them :D !


Sarah March 17, 2012 at 4:02 am

Eha, I do need to visit. We have a cockatiel as a pet (named bald eagle) and thought cockatoos were about that size. Obviously not, yikes!


Barbara | Creative Culinary March 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Oh my. My favorite cookie of all time are called pecan butter balls and are from a recipe I first made with my long gone Grandmother many years ago when I was just a little girl. As much as I love them they are only made for the Christmas holidays and I think that holds them even more special in my heart.

Now you introduce me to almost the same cookie with the addition of maple syrup. I am an avowed mapleholic Sarah and though I can find it here; my cache of syrup sent to me from a friend in Canada is also on the wane and I think I must use the very last of that very special elixir to make these cookies. You might have taken perfect to a notch above.


Sarah March 15, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Thanks Barbara, While it possible to buy pure maple syrup in Israel (usually from Cananda, the biggest exporter), I have always asked anyone coming from the States to bring me a bottle. The best gift!


Yael March 16, 2012 at 12:21 am

These looks great. Probably taste amazing as well. I’ll try making a GF version. Made me think of Canada. Miss it.


myfudo March 16, 2012 at 8:03 am

I love maple flavor…These cookies look really lovely!


usha March 17, 2012 at 12:33 am

Thank you Sarah for the link. I went back to it and then remembered having swooned over the photo of the salad decorated with flowers. Gorgeous !
Wood sorrel grows wild in the lawns beneath my bacony and I watch the gardener periodically clear them in an attempt to get rid of them. In a couple of weeks they are back, in larger and lusher patches, much to my amusement and glee. I LOVE these little plantsI am sometimes tempted to wag a finger at the gardener and say….”I told you so !”


Sarah March 17, 2012 at 4:03 am

Usha, Exactly, wood sorrel is so pretty I never consider them weeds. I actually added a handful to lentil soup I made yesterday adding a nice tangy flavor to it.


Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb March 19, 2012 at 3:15 am

You wont believe me Sarah but I have never had the chance to taste maple syrop and pecans (and peanutbutter). Those r typical american ingredients ( Iam not sure about the pecans) and europe has little american except mcdonals. lol

I am kind of wonderign what it tastes like but thx to your vivid memories translated in your writing I have been able to understand the flavoures better and I hope to get to try your pretty cookies one day.


Sarah March 19, 2012 at 6:41 am

Helene, It does seem strange that you never taste maple syrup, the staple of my childhood. I’m sure you’ll find it in Asian shops as I read the biggest importer is Japan.


Jamie March 24, 2012 at 5:20 am

Sarah, this must be your most beautifully written post yet! How poetic – and enjoyable. And the cookies look and sound so delicious. I keep jars of maple syrup in my cupboard but never think to use the syrup for baking. These cookies are adorable and must taste so delicious!


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