There are several types of cookies called “lace” and the main ingredient in each is a bit different. What is consistent in all the varieties is that the cookie is thin and filled with little holes. Odd, huh, saying a cookie is “filled” with holes, but that’s the best description I can think of.
The first one I ever tried uses rolled oats and I like it a lot. But then I found this recipe for John’s Pecan Lace and now I have new love. (Don’t be jealous, husband of mine!) This delicate, sweet, crunchy delight is made with pecans, brown sugar, orange zest, butter and a bit of flour. And boy is it good!
Because I’m the curious sort, I just had to look up pecans to try to figure out where they came from and why we love them so much. I fully expected to read that they came over in early days from the Mediterranean or some other exotic locale. Imagine my surprise, then, to read that they are native to North America and the only major tree nut that does grow naturally on the continent. Pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents as a food source (especially in the autumn) and it’s thought they made a fermented drink with them, as well.
Did you know it would take 5640 pecan halves to equal the weight of a standard watermelon? Or that there are over 1,000 varieties of pecans?
Of course, pecans taste good, so it didn’t take long for Europeans colonizing the continent to find them and start domesticating them. Look at this time line:
1500’s (and much earlier)
- Native Americans utilized and cultivated wild pecans
- Spanish colonists cultivated orchards (late 1600’s – early 1700’s)
- English settlers planted pecan trees (1700’s)
- George Washington planted pecan trees (1775)
- Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees (1779)
- Economic potential for pecans realized (late 1700’s)
- Pecans exported by French to the West Indies (1802)
- Pecan budding technique discovered (1822)
- Successful grafting of the pecan tree (1846)
- First planting of improved pecans (1876)
- Commercial propagation of pecans begins (1880’s)
For more information about pecans, check out The History of Pecans on the “I Love Pecans” website. And my sincere thanks to the site for all the information. What a treasure trove of Pecan lore!
Now that you know I love pecans and have an obsessive curiosity about all things food (and of course, that I love to google this and that!) let’s get to the cookie in today’s Cookie Post.
Pecan Lace Cookies. Yes! Sweet (but not too sweet), crunchy, delicate, fragile, and lots of fun. They are a lovely treat.
I grew up using walnuts, primarily because my family always seemed to have someone who would give us a bag of walnuts from their tree. We’d shell them and put them in cookies. Or cakes, or decorate a cake with walnut halves. I still love walnuts. But as an adult I found pecans. Now, where a walnut is a strong nut with a bit of a bite, pecans are rich and luscious. And that also describes pecan lace. It’s a really special cookie.
I’m not even sure why I looked for this recipe, but I found it on Martha Stewart’s site. I didn’t really change or improve the recipe, so I’m sending you straight to her site for the recipe . She also has a video of John Barricelli demonstrating making it, you can view it here. It’s a great demo and only a few minutes long.
By the way, John Barricelli is another interesting focus for bakers- and maybe one day I’ll talk more about him. Meantime, if you want to know who developed this recipe, check here.
I did adjust just one thing in the recipe. It calls for a “pinch” of salt- I used a full ½ tsp and found it just a bit tastier. You can do it either way.
Pecan Lace is a great cookie- give it a try! And as usual, I’d love to hear how you like it.
Diana and the Nutty Dancing Bees!