Cookie Bookie Week
(Click here to see Monday's cookie on Serious Eats...)
With the cooling weather, there's just nothing better than a comfortable chair, a glowing fireplace, a cookie and a spooky story. Every day this week, I'm sharing a cookie and a few of my favorite October reads.... Today's Book: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Considered the Father of the Detective Novel, Wilkie Collins weaves a fascinating tale of villainy, intrigue, deception, and suspense. In the style of Dickens, each character has such a clearly defined personality, that once he has entered the room, he is never forgotten. It makes for a spine-tingling 19th century read. And it certainly doesn't hurt that the electricity shut off in the middle of writing this post, leaving me thinking of scary stories in the pitch black of early morning.....
In The Woman in White, artist William Cartwright is hired to tutor two wealthy but orphaned sisters, Laura and Marian, who live in the care of their aged uncle. En route to their home, he encounters a ghostly figure in the shadows, a ragged and crazed woman dressed in white, purporting to have a secret. This secret is twisted intricately into the lives of all of the novel's characters. At the mansion, Cartwright almost immediately falls madly in love with the beautiful Laura, but she is already engaged to a deceitful Sir Percival Glyde. The marriage is miserable, and the brutal Sir Percival clearly has plans to murder Laura for her inheritance. In the meantime, the woman in white lurks in the woods, desperately trying to share her secret with the two sisters. Sir Percival organizes a hunt and captures the Woman in White, confining her to an insane asylum. The plucky sister Marion and artist Cartwright are left to unravel the mystery together, hoping to save Laura from an unhappy marriage and possible murder, and discover the surprisingly intimate connection between the Woman in White, the sisters' family, and Sir Percival Glyde. It's a captivating and suspenseful read, made even more so by this spooky time of year. Today's treat to eat while reading is a light and crispy brown sugar cookie, covered with a gooey praline frosting and crunchy toasted pecans. Its delicate, crispy texture combined with a candy like praline topping makes this one worthy indulgence. So crack open your novels and your pecans, and get cracking on cookies and bookies.
Money Saving Tips: Pecans are pricey, so I've reduced the amount in this recipe by 1/3. Toast your nuts so that they deliver the maximum amount of flavor. For the quickest toasting, place them on a paper towel and microwave them in 15-30 second increments until they are fragrant. Condensed milk can be substituted for the cream; just leave out the powdered sugar if you do.
Pecan Praline Cookies adapted from Martha Stewart
Estimated Cost: $5.50 for 30 cookies
1/2 cup butter
1 and 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 2/3 cup flour (I used half whole wheat)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and brown sugar in a large bowl; add vanilla and egg. Stir in flour, powder, soda, and salt. Dough will be dry. Roll dough into one inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press dough balls flat with a glass. (You can dip your glass bottom in flour if the cookies stick.) Bake for 6-10 minutes or until just lightly browned. Meanwhile, bring cream, brown sugar and pecans to a light boil in a small saucepan. Boil for two minutes. Stir in pecans. Allow glaze to cool and thicken slightly. Drizzle over cookies.
Coming Tomorrow: More Cookie Bookie
Soft Spicy Ginger Cookies