Cook’s Corner

Mystery solved: Pecan Crisps are deliciously nutty icebox cookies


Sleuth’s Corner

Q. In the late 1950s or early ’60s, there was the best recipe for peanut butter cookies on the Pet Milk can. I made these for my son and he still remembers them. I’d like to surprise him with a batch. Can anyone help?

Eleanor Young , Bangor, Pa.


Pecan Crisps

1 3/4 cups flour

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted

Beat all the ingredients except the pecans in a large bowl until well mixed. Stir in half the pecans. Shape the dough into a log about 12 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 weeks.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the dough with a sharp knife into rounds no more than 1/4 inch thick. Place on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with remaining pecans. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until edges just begin to brown. Allow to cool a minute on cookie sheet before removing to wire racks. Makes about 48 cookies.

Per cookie: 72 calories (66 percent from fat), 5.5g fat (2.1 g saturated, 2.2 g monounsaturated), 12 mg cholesterol, .9g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, .5 g fiber, 29mg sodium.


Orange and Cumin Chutney

2 pounds oranges

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup dried cranberries and/or cherries

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 (3- to 4-inch) cinnamon stick

Scrub the fruit. Remove the zest from the oranges with a vegetable peeler and chop finely. Toss the zest with 1 tablespoon of the salt in a small bowl, cover and set aside overnight to soften. Reserve the oranges in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.

The next day, rinse the zest well and place in a non-reactive pot. Peel the oranges, separate into sections, remove any seeds, cut the sections into thirds, and add to the pot along with the sugar, cranberries, vinegar, onion, garlic, cumin, ginger, pepper, cinnamon stick, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup water. Slowly bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes. Remove from heat and remove cinnamon stick. Allow to rest 5 minutes, giving it an occasional gentle stir to release trapped air; it will thicken slightly. Skim off any foam.

Ladle into sterilized 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Wipe rims clean, center lids on the jars and screw on jar bands until they are fingertip tight. Process the jars by submerging them in boiling water to cover by 2 inches for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check the seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Makes about 4 cups.

Per 2-tablespoon serving: 64 calories, 1g fat (0 g saturated, 0 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, .4g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 1.1 g fiber, 188mg sodium.

Main dish

Chicken Marbella

1/2 head of garlic, cloves peeled and puréed

2 tablespoons dried oregano

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup pitted prunes

1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives

1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice

3 bay leaves

2 chickens (about 2 1/2-pounds each), quartered

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white wine

1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice and bay leaves. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with the pan juices, until chicken is done (165 degrees).

With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with pan juices and sprinkle with parsley. Serve remaining sauce on the side. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 666 calories (49 percent from fat), 36.4 g fat (8.5 g saturated, 18.4 g monounsaturated), 177 mg cholesterol, 46 g protein, 35 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 509 mg sodium.

Linda Michel of Perry, Ga., asked for help locating a recipe for cookies she tasted at a craft show that were called Pecan Crisps. She described them as “very thin with chopped pecans on top and very crispy, almost like a cracker. They were the color of honey and about 1/8 inch in thickness.”

Donna Cleary contributed the recipe here, which she thinks she cut off a flour bag “at least 20 years ago, and ever since I’ve always got a roll ready in the freezer for when the urge hits. I usually make at least a double batch so I have some for the freezer, and at Christmas time I quadruple the recipe. They are easy and addicting.”

I am a big fan of icebox cookies, the original slice and bakes, and love the abundance of nuts both in and on top of these.

Q. At a lovely Seder I attended, the main dish was a chicken with stewed plums that was absolutely delicious. I have looked through all my Jewish cookbooks and have not come up with a recipe. Can you help?


I knew immediately that the dish was Chicken Marbella, which irresistibly combines savory, sweet and salty flavors in an easy entree. The recipe is from The Silver Palate Cookbook (Workman, 1982), the penultimate cookbook of the 1980s, as my splattered, much-used copy attests.

The original recipe calls for four whole chickens, but I’ve downsized it to produce eight servings. You can, of course, cut it in half or double it.

Cookbook Corner

Put ’em Up Fruit (Storey, $19.95) by Sherri Brooks Vinton is an intriguing blend — 80 recipes for preserving fruit with both classic flavors (dried orange zest, poached pears in wine) and contemporary (peach melba compote, Meyer lemon glaze).

What makes the book unusual is the step-by-step photographs, which are perfect for canning beginners, and the 80 additional recipes using the preserves, pickles and vinegars you’ve made.

This orange and cumin chutney recipe here is wonderfully different. With the dried cranberries and ginger, it really adds a spark to simple roasted chicken or a cheese plate.

Send questions and responses to or Food, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. Personal replies are not possible.

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