Crunchy, meringue-like cake fingers are topped with an unbelievable brown butter icing. This recipe from Dorie Greenspan will surely knock your socks off!
Hey look - a recipe with nuts! Those of you who have been around here a while know that I am not a fan of nuts, so I don't to feature many recipes with them. As my husband was browsing through Dorie's Cookies, he saw these and asked me to bake them. I happily obliged, knowing that this would be a great dessert for my waistline since I wouldn't really partake in the quality control process.
I found it interesting that the cookies were essentially a meringue. We whip the egg whites like a meringue and bake it low and slow. The resulting cookies had the signature crunch like a meringue, yet was soft and chewy on the inside. The cake fingers are topped with a thick brown butter icing, which I could easily eaten with a spoon (or a fork, since it was so dense).
Both my husband, Addie and my skating friend really enjoyed these cookies. The brown butter made the entire kitchen smell amazing so making the icing alone was totally worth it. The recipe did make a fairly large batch, and you can customize the bar size to whatever floats your boat. If you're hosting a party with lots of finger foods, you can cut these a little bit smaller. Or, you can make them larger and just enjoy them yourself!
Dorie's pecan cake fingers with brown butter icing
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (120 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180 grams) finely chopped pecans, preferably toasted
- 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (425 grams) light brown sugar, packed
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F. Generously grease a quarter sheet pan (you can use a 9"x13" pan if you don't own a half sheet pan) and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Place the chopped pecans in a small bowl. Measure out 1/4 of the flour/baking powder mixture and toss into the pecans so they are evenly coated.
Push the brown sugar through a fine mesh strainer onto a piece of parchment paper. Do not keep any brown sugar lumps.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whip the egg whites on medium high speed until you achieve soft peaks. Gradually add the strained brown sugar and turn the speed to high. Your egg whites will appear to be a caramel-toned meringue. Whip in the vanilla.
Turn the mixer off and gently fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Add in the next 1/3 and gently fold until well incorporated. Add in the final 1/3 of the flour mixture until a few meringue-y streaks remain. Gently fold in the reserved pecans in 3 additions. Be as gentle as you can so you don't deflate the egg whites.
Gently spread the batter into your prepared sheet pan and bake in your preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until the tops appear dry, dull and pale. If you press on the bars, nothing will bounce back.
Allow the bars to cool for about 3 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Once the bars are completely cooled, transfer to a cutting board and using a sharp, long knife, cut the bars into fingers - about 3" by 1".
To make the icing, put the powdered sugar into a medium heatproof bowl. Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to melt but do not stir. Keep an eagle eye on the butter as it slowly starts to brown. The butter will darken but watch it carefully so it doesn't burn (you'll start to see brown flecks). Feel free to swirl the pan around but do not touch the butter with any utensils. Once the butter produces a nut-like aroma and is lightly brown, turn off the heat and take the saucepan off the stove.
Pour the browned butter into the bowl with the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and stir. The icing will be slightly stiff and clay-like.
Using whatever method works for you, dollop about a Tablespoon of the icing over the middle of a cake finger and spread across the top as evenly as you can. You may need to use your fingers. The icing may crack and will not look perfect, and that's OK.
Let the cookies rest for about an hour before serving. These should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about a week. They will continue to harden after each day.
Yield: One 9"x13" pan; about 48 bars
Source: Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan