Chocolate chip pecan cookies and the pleasures of baking

“The measuring and mixing always smoothed out her thinking processes – nothing was as calming as creaming butter – and when the kitchen was warm from the oven overheating and the smell of baking chocolate, she took final stock of where she’d been and where she was going. Everything was fine.”

Jennifer Crusie

It is rainy and cold in my part of the world today and when I came home after my morning of errands I made these cookies for my husband and daughter, who are both studying hard and glued to their respective desks. Unhurried time is one of the things that makes baking pleasurable, rather than a chore that needs to be done so that lunch boxes will be able to be filled for the coming week. As I carefully chopped the chocolate and nuts, creamed the butter and brown sugar, and rolled the dough, I felt a deep peacefulness that came from this nurturing act, and from knowing that there was nothing else that needed to be done, no other demands on my time, only this task that I chose to accomplish. The cookies were made with love and tasted wonderful; rich and chocolate-filled, chewy, but with the subtle crunch of the nuts, and just the right amount of salt to counter the sweetness. I am sure you have your favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, but if you feel the need for something a little different, why not try these. I’d love to hear what you think of them.

Makes about 30

180 g soft butter
120 g brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
300 g self-raising flour
200 g dark chocolate roughly chopped
130 g pecan nut pieces

Preheat oven to 165 C. Line 2 shallow baking trays or cookie sheets with silicon baking paper. In a medium-sized bowl beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt together until creamy. You can use a mixer or do it by hand. For me there is something wonderful about doing this by hand, but it does require that the butter is nicely soft for the task to be truly satisfying. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add half of the flour and combine well. Once well incorporated add the remaining flour, the chocolate and the pecans and mix together gently until all the flour is incorporated and the chocolate and pecans evenly distributed. Using a tablespoon, scoop out spoonfuls of mixture and roll them into a ball with your hands. Place on the trays, with some space for spreading between them. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until lightly golden and cooked. They should still have a little give, but this will ensure they are gooey and chewy and scrumptious when they have cooled a little. Serve them warm or cool completely and store in an airtight container. They will keep for 4 or 5 days.