I’m bringing you the last cookie of the holiday season, and while it’s a sad occasion that it’s come to an end, what a delicious journey it has been this year! I’ve taken you everywhere from a savory option, all the way to these decadent Pecan Sticky Bun Cookies! I figured I might as well go as big as I could for the final showdown. If you’re a big fan of pecan sticky buns (such as I am), but don’t want to deal with the hassle of making a yeasted dough and then having to wait overnight for the rolls to rise and then baking them and inverting them and praying they come out of the pan, then the easier solution is to just turn that classic recipe into a bite-sized cookie. They’re the perfect addition to your holiday spread this year, and would make a great option to include in those cookie tins at your cookie swap! Happy Holidays my friends, may you enjoy the next several days with family and friends, surrounded by delicious food!
Let’s start by making the sticky pecan topping. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, butter, sugar, maple syrup and salt. Set over low heat and cook until the butter has melted through. Increase the heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Let boil and cook for 5 to 6 mins.
**Note: Keep an eye on the pot, stirring every once and a while, making sure that the mixture doesn’t boil over and create a mess on the stove.**
Once the mixture has thickened a bit, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and chopped pecans. I just give the pecans a rough chop because I love having a few big pieces of mixed in with some finely chopped pieces.
Give it a stir until well combined and then transfer the mixture to a boil. Let cool to room temperature and then place in the fridge until ready to use.
**Tip: You can make this up to 3 days in advance and keep it in the fridge in an airtight container. Just rewarm on the stove or microwave for a few minutes to loosen it up. You don’t want to boil it again, just take the chill off and make it pourable once again!**
Now let’s turn our attention to the cookies. This is a basic shortbread cookie dough, except we’re giving it a sticky bun/cinnamon roll twist. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then stir in the vanilla and ground cinnamon.
Add the flour and salt and mix until the mixture starts to come together. If it looks crumbly, take the bowl off of the stand mixer and work the dough by hand until it comes together to form a dough.
Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper and roll between another sheet of paper until it’s a large rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Carefully transfer the rolled dough to the fridge and allow to chill for at least 15 minutes.
**Note: The dough will be soft, but it makes rolling it out so much easier at this stage. Chilling it, will then make it easier to fill and roll into a log! If the dough has chilled too much, it’ll firm up and won’t roll, so you’ll want to leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes until soft enough to roll.**
In a small bowl, combine the softened butter, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon until smooth. Spread this onto the dough, in an even layer. Roll up into a tight log, lengthwise—the same way you would a cinnamon roll dough. Wrap the log in parchment or plastic wrap and give a roll on the counter to ensure it’s a cylinder. Chill for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
**Tip: At this stage you can keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake, or even freeze the log and then just slice and bake whenever you want!**
Once chilled, using a sharp knife, cut the log into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Place the cookies on baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper.
**Tip: You’ll want to leave about 2 inches of space in between each cookie because they spread out a tiny bit and so they’ll need a little space to move as they bake.**
Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool on the baking sheets for about 10 minutes before removing onto wire racks to cool completely.
Once cooled, you can top each cookie with the sticky bun pecan topping from earlier. Allow the cookies to set somewhat before serving and enjoying!
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container between sheets of wax or parchment paper, and kept for up to 3 days.
Whether you’re still in need of a cookie recipe for your annual cookie swap or you’re wanting to leave something out for Santa to enjoy, these are a must this holiday season! And if you don’t want to bother with the sticky bun aspect, then top with a simple glaze and call them cinnamon roll cookies instead!
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 ounces toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- To make the topping, in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, heavy cream, maple syrup and salt. Set over low heat, and cook until the butter has melted. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture has slightly thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Keep an eye on it so that it doesn't boil over. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and pecans. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the dough, in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Add the flour and salt and stir until the mixture comes together to form a rough dough. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper and roll out the dough with another sheet of parchment to a ¼-inch thick large rectangle. Carefully transfer the dough to the fridge and allow to chill for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt until smooth.
- Spread the filling over the dough in a single layer. Then roll into a tight log, lengthwise, the way you would a cinnamon roll dough. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and give it a roll on the counter to make sure it's a smooth log. Chill for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into ¼-inch thick slices and place the cookies onto the prepared baking pans, about 2-inches apart. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool on the pans for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
- Warm the pecan topping in the microwave or stove top for just a few seconds to loosen it up and make it pourable once more. Top each cookie with about a teaspoon of the topping. Allow to set a bit before serving and enjoying! Leftover cookies can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container between sheets of wax or parchment paper, for up to 3 days. Enjoy!