I guess for most people, Oreos – or some other chocolately, crispy, gooey thing was their cookie of choice growing up.
Me? It was Pecan Sandies… I love a shortbread cookie. I love that slightly sweet and a little bit salty, brown, buttery cookie… and there is nothing better to dunk into a tall glass of cold milk… or hot chocolate…. or coffee (in my later years…)
The thing is – I can’t buy them anymore. Between the dairy – pecans – and god knows what else in them; it just isn’t a very good idea.
Luckily, since we’ve come across cultured butter, making things we all can eat has gotten a lot easier.
On our trip the other week, the cabin we rented had huge hickory trees surrounding the front parking area. I busied myself one morning whacking the fallen shells with a rock, picking out the tender nut meats – thinking that since they weren’t exactly the same thing as pecans (Jane can’t eat them), or walnuts (.. those either) or most every other tree nut (…bumpkus) – maybe she might be able to tolerate them. I cracked a couple dozen nuts and took them in for her to test out…. they seemed to have no effect on her.
The wheels started turning and before heading home, I scooped up about a gallon of the unshelled beauties to pick out enough for some cookies.
Here’s the thing about hickory nuts –
1). They’re hard as the devil to get out of the shell
2). There’s not a lot of meat in any one particular nut
3). The little shards created from whacking them with a hammer shred your fingertips like hamburger.
4). It took an hour and a half & the entire gallon of whole nuts to get 2/3 cup of meat.
Now, I’m the “do things the HARD WAY kind of guy”, but if you don’t feel up to the task of whacking and shredding, you can always buy them online already shelled…. Fair Warning, since they are a bear to do – the people selling them are going to charge you for all that work. A pound of shelled hickory nuts will run you about $30 + shipping. I’ve been able to find one supplier that sells them shelled – HERE
Hickory Nut Sandies
Makes 4 Dozen Cookies
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Cultured Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1 Large Egg
3/4 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Hickory Nut Meat (Roughly Chopped)
1 Additional Cup Confection’s Sugar for Coating
Tools of the Trade:
2 Baking Sheets
Measuring Spoons & Cups
Large Zipper Bag
Preheat the oven to 375
In the stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and confectioner’s sugar. Add the egg and beat until creamy. Sift together the dry ingredients, and with the mixer on low, gradually add to the creamed mixture. Increase the speed and add in the nut meats and mix until the nuts are evenly scattered throughout the mix. Transfer the dough to a zipper bag and chill for 30 minutes.
Pinching off 1″ pieces, roll the dough into small balls in the pals of you hands
then drop into a plate of confectioner’s sugar to coat the exterior.
Place the sugared ball on a papered baking sheet about 2″ apart and press down on the cookie to form little “hockey pucks”.
Cooking one rack at a time, Bake at 375 for 13 minutes.
Allow to cookies to cool slightly on the sheets before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Plate Fodder Note:
You’ll notice this recipe is tagged into the “Lactose Free” category. The process in which cultured butter is created adds the same culture to butter that Lactaid adds to milk. Although it’s done as a way of enhancing the flavor of the butter, the process renders the butter lactose free. And you can trust me on that – Jane’s case of Lactose intolerance is so severe it leaves her writhing in the floor for a solid eight hours. Cultured Butter effects her no differently than a dairy-free margarine.