oat and pecan brittle cookies

Welcome back, fellow Dessert People! This week, we’re bringing you another stellar bake from the Bars & Cookies chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person, and one that has been praised as one of the best recipes in the whole book—the Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies, back number 49!

Lauren’s Take

Hello all! Christmas music has started on the radio this week, so I am a HAPPY camper. I hope the world is treating you all well.

I remember the video for this bake was one of the first ones I saw and watched when Claire started releasing her Dessert Person videos on YouTube and I had a few main thoughts…

1. There is brown butter in this, it must be amazing

2. Wow this looks like quite a proces

3. Wow that looks like a lot of dishes

I am happy to report that after making these cookies, I can confirm all of the above. They are finicky, involve many steps, but damn, are they worth it.

In terms of ingredients, these cookies include most things you’d already have in your house: LOTS of butter (which has become a staple of each grocery store trip for me these days), flour, old fashioned oats, white and brown sugar, eggs, baking soda, and pecans. Nothing too fancy.

The cookies involve a series of steps that individually don’t take that long; the most time-consuming piece is the time needed to chill the dough. The first step is to make the pecan brittle. You do this by toasting the chopped pecans, and then make a caramel-like mixture by heating sugar, butter, and water. Once the caramel is that pretty colour, you remove from heat and stir in the toasted pecans. Honestly, nothing smells better than toasted nuts but then you add them in caramel?! I mean, c’mon. Then, quickly, you add in the baking soda and salt to create a foaming action for your brittle. I must say, I was pretty excited for this but nothing happened? It didn’t foam or grow or anything. I’m not sure if my baking soda is just old and doesn’t have the same oomph it used to? Anyways, I then spread out the brittle quickly on a piece of parchment paper. In Claire’s video, it appeared that the brittle was wet and hardening quickly, but mine was already hard and brittle, so who knows. I tasted a piece and it was delicious so I decided to just go with it anyways. I let it chill for 10 minutes and then chopped the brittle into small pieces and put aside.

Next step was to make the cookie dough. First, you brown half of the butter and put the other half in the bowl on the stand mixer. Once the butter is browned, you pour it over the other butter, and let it sit until room temperature (I waited about 30 minutes for this). In the meantime, I mixed my dry ingredients which has to be done in a food processor to ground the oats. My mini food processor barely hung on to get everything done in one go (I really need an adult sized one, you listening Santa?). You pulse the flour, salt, baking soda, half of your pecan brittle, and a cup of oats until it makes a finely ground mixture.

Next, you add your white and brown sugars to butter and beat until smooth. I have noticed that in many cookie recipes, Claire does a combo of white and brown sugar; I think it just adds a lot more depth to the flavour. Then you add in your eggs and vanilla, and finally your dry ingredients until everything is well combined. To your dough, you add the reserved pecan brittle and oats.

Once the dough is done, you scoop out roughly 2oz mounds and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and then chill in the fridge. I chilled overnight, so they were in there for about 24 hours in total. I was able to get 18 cookies from the dough. After the chilling phase was complete, you FINALLY get to bake them. These cookies grow so make sure you give them lots of space (Claire recommends 6 cookies per sheet, but honestly I would’ve done less). I decided to only bake 12 and I put the other 6 mounds into a freezer bag to save for later!

The cookies don’t take long to bake, about 18 minutes or so for me. But the SMELL that comes from the oven while baking is something else…it smelt so butterscotch-y I couldn’t wait to taste. They are done once they are a dark golden brown along the outsides but still kind of gooey in the middle. The cookies are left to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferred to a wire rack.

As I mentioned, these cookies really expand in the oven, and with all the brittle and oats inside, get a really cool ruffled look along the top. They are so inviting both in terms of look and smell. They hit the perfect balance between crispy and chewy. The toffee flavour from the brittle is excellent and the brown butter adds some savoury aspect too. Honestly, it is a perfectly balanced cookie and you aren’t left searching for any other flavour. Just be prepared to have a mound of dishes in your sink when you’re done. This cookie is excellent and very much deserving of 5 Stars!

Julia’s Take

Another week, another cookie recipe and considering what a “meh” start this chapter had, these last few bakes have been absolutely stellar! There are so many cookie recipes that I’ll be making again and again once this project is over, and these Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies are on that list!

This process is not for the faint of heart. There were so many steps involved but, let me tell you, each one was absolutely worth the time and effort. Step one: toast the pecans. Step two: make a caramel. Step three: combine the toasted nuts and the caramel to create a brittle. Mine firmed up with away and was super clumpy/not spreadable like Claire’s seemed to be, but nevertheless it tasted absolutely delicious. Would definitely make just this on its down as a special treat!

After the brittle stage came the butter stage. Half of the butter that the recipe calls for is browned (Claire’s favourite thing and now mine) and the other half goes into the bowl of the stand mixer. Once my butter was browned, it was poured over the rest of the butter and then the whole mixture was left to cool and re-solidify. This is the second time Claire has called for this particular butter process, and the book says it takes about 30 minutes, but in my experience it takes at least an hour, likely longer, for the butter to come anywhere near solid form again while cooling.

While my butter cooled, I got started on the dry blend. This was a mixture of AP flour, whole oats, salt, baking powder, and half of the pecan brittle. It all gets blitzed up in the food processer (yes, that’s right—there is toffee brittle mixed right into the batter itself. Genius.).

After I had my dry ingredients ready to go, I went back to my stand mixer and added brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla to the butter mixture. Once this was all combined, the dry ingredients were added in. Last but not least, some additional oats and the rest of the brittle, cut into little chunks, were gently folded in to the batter.

You would think after ALL this, your cookie would be ready to bake but, alas, they are not. The batter is portioned out in quarter cup size-ish scoops, and then left in the fridge to cool for about 24 hours. This stage is supposed to contribute to the overall texture and chewiness of the cookies; it’s the same process we used for the Chocolate Chip Cookies and, can confirm, it makes a big difference!

The next day, I took my cookie scoops out of the fridge, arranged them onto baking sheets, and baked my cookies. The house smelled absolutely unreal—toasty and butterscotchy and delicious. These cookies were NEXT. LEVEL. Everyone I shared them with raved about them, and they did not last long. I’ll be baking up another batch ASAP. 5 stars from me for sure!

Next week: Minty Lime Bars!