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Toasted Pecan and Penuche Cookies with Dark Chocolate and My ‘Baking Fantasty’ with Diamond Nuts

Toasted Pecan and Penuche Cookies with Dark Chocolate

by Barbara Kiebel on November 5, 2013

When I was approached about participating in an opportunity to share a baking fantasy my first thought was simple. I fantasize that my cookies will not go flat; seriously that’s my ultimate baking goal. It is the lament of many bakers in this neck of the woods…or rather this giraffe’s neck of the woods. We are up in the air and that Mile High business can wreck havoc on baked goods. I could be the star player at with all of my years of issues but time and experience have taught me a couple of things. First. Don’t stop baking. Second. Roll with the punches. Third. Enjoy it no matter what. Sometimes easier said than done; all I want is a cookie that doesn’t look like someone let the air out of it’s tires…is that too much to ask?

chopped pecans

Yes, probably so. The real truth is I can eventually get it right but the variants are many and my biggest accomplishment is to know how to fix’em, not how to fold’em. Still, I wanted a cookie that stood up. That didn’t look like Mike Tyson had pummeled it into the ground. With that in mind I was ever so careful with this treasure and even made them two ways. First I did my typical; taking a divot out of the baking powder with my pinkie; our baked goods typically rise too fast in the thinner air and they do not set enough…which results in that falling business during the second half of their bake. Cutting back on leavening can help but with cookies it’s not always a given that this method will be best; they are tricky little buggars. My second go round I use a simple method  suggested to me by a local professional baker and that is to raise the oven temp by 10 degrees. This step doesn’t affect the rise but helps to cook the dough quicker; hoping to offset the ultimate fail, i.e. a flat cookie.

Which worked better? The difference was slight so I hesitate to declare a winner but if pushed I would have to opt for the higher temperature method.  Of course opting to cover them with some decadent penuche and chocolate is one disguise I love…lucky you if you’re at sea level; just bake them as proscribed and you’ll achieve the perfection I can only hope for!


I would be remiss if I left you thinking that my fantasies are just limited to scientific experiment. While not wanting to create a kitchen sink cookie (no Oreo center or salted anything and not even any booze!) I did want to try something that brought together several elements I’ve learned over the years that I love. Browned butter. OMG yes. Diamond Pecans that are toasted. How did I EVER enjoy them without that step? A Penuche AND Chocolate garnish? That too. OK, it might have seemed a bit kitchen sinkish but let me tell you…I loved, loved, LOVED them. Yes, a bit decadent, but they held their shape and their promise of goodness and delivered on my fantasy. Now if I can only remember exactly what I did to make them work for me here each and every time! Ah…the beauty of altitude…it really takes an attitude! (BTW, this recipe and any others on this site are developed for folks at sea level or what we call flatlanders!).

These turned out just perfectly and tasted like the divine decadence I was hoping for…I know what I’m making for friends and family for holiday treats!

Toasted Pecan and Penuche Cookies with Dark Chocolate

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 3-4 Dozen

Toasted Pecan and Penuche Cookies with Dark Chocolate


  • 1/2 cup butter, browned (see Preparation steps below)
  • 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped pecans, toasted
  • For Caramel Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • For Chocolate Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp butter


    To Brown Butter:
  1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; whisking constantly until the solids start to brown.
  2. Watch carefully and remove from heat once the solids have turned a nice warm brown. Be careful; burned is not what you want!
  3. Refrigerate the butter until it firms up to a soft butter stage.
  4. In a large bowl, cream the browned butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg and vanilla and beat in thoroughly.
  6. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and add gradually to the creamed mixture and mix well.
  7. Add the chopped pecans and mix until well incorporated.
  8. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place at least 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets; flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass.
  9. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool and remove with a spatula to sheets of waxed paper on a separate cookie sheet.
  10. To Drizzle with Penuche:
  11. Bring brown sugar and cream to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from the heat and whisk in confectioners' sugar, stirring until smooth.
  12. Using a fork, drizzle while warm over cookies; if mixture starts to firm up; return to heat and warm before continuing.
  13. To Drizzle with Dark Chocolate:
  14. Combine chocolate and butter in a small pan over low heat. Melt chocolate and butter and whisk until smooth. Drizzle
  15. over cookies using a fork. Refrigerate briefly to firm up drizzled caramel and chocolate.
  16. Remove from waxed paper and store in an airtight container.


Diamond Nuts. Bake and you shall receive.

“Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Diamond of California Nuts via Glam Media. 
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Diamond Foods.”

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nancy bradley December 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Ok barb everything was going real well. I browned the butte perfectly, refrigerated it. Creamed brown sugar with and then added the egg and vanilla. Then the flour. It does not hold together to even begin to add the nuts and make balls. What is wrong. I was looking so forward to these!


2 Paula November 22, 2013 at 9:50 pm

These do look divine and decadent! They need to be in my kitchen! Honestly, with the issues you have to deal with because of the high altitude you are in I really have to give you a lot of credit. You continue to turn out wonderful baked goods. I’m not so sure I could deal with the issues as well as you do.


3 Rachael (Fuji Mama) November 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm

These look divine! And I’m all for covering up flat cookies with more good stuff. I think that should be a rule.
Rachael (Fuji Mama) Most Recent Post: Pumpkin Chili on KSL Studio 5


4 Creative Culinary November 10, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Thanks Rachael! OK, I vote we make that a rule. I know I’ve got your vote. It’s done! :) They are divine though I’m not sure people know what penuche is…I just know it’s wonderful stuff!


5 Miriam @ OvertimeCook November 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm

What amazing looking cookies! They have pretty much everything I love rolled into one. Yum.
Miriam @ OvertimeCook Most Recent Post: Maple Pumpkin Granola


6 Creative Culinary November 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Same for me Miriam…yet not too much; they really were SO good!


7 Amy (Savory Moments) November 7, 2013 at 5:02 am

Oh these cookies look delicious, especially because you used brown butter!!
Amy (Savory Moments) Most Recent Post: Chinese five-spice pork over spaghetti squash


8 Creative Culinary November 7, 2013 at 10:49 am

I know! Doesn’t brown butter make everything better?


9 Lana @ Never Enough Thyme November 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

What a perfect cookie, Barb! The penuche topping made me think of my mother making penuche at Christmas when I was a child. The recipe came from her 1950’s home economics cookbook and we looked forward to it every year. And I totally agree about toasting the pecans. It makes all the difference!
Lana @ Never Enough Thyme Most Recent Post: Penne with Creamy Guanciale Sauce


10 Adri November 6, 2013 at 8:06 am

Two things – yes, toasted nuts are great. Toasting, whether it is butter OR nuts, adds another dimension of flavor, I say! And NO BOOZE! Oh my, let’s hope that will not be a trend! These cookies look divine, and I bet the good folks at Diamond are going to love them.


11 Creative Culinary November 8, 2013 at 6:55 am

No new trends here…just didn’t think it would add anything beyond the other flavors that were so good together. Trust me. :)


12 Holly November 5, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Yes, in this “giraffe’s neck of the woods!” Love that! Also love the look of these cookies. There is so much going on with these flavors that I have to tell you I wouldn’t care if the cookies were flat, puffy, or just picture-perfect. All sound delicious to me!
Holly Most Recent Post: Honey Spice Bread #TwelveLoaves November


13 Creative Culinary November 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

There is a lot going on but it all went together so well. I just know putting an Oreo in the middle would have been overkill. :)


14 Claire @ Simply Sweet Justice November 5, 2013 at 9:38 pm

I’m a sucker for dark chocolate and nuts, so I will have to give these a try! So decadent!
Claire @ Simply Sweet Justice Most Recent Post: Carrot Apple Juice


15 laurasmess November 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I’ve never heard of penuche. Is that just another word for caramel sauce? Either way, the cookies look incredible Barb! The gorgeous chewy interior, the drizzled topping AND toasted pecans? Heaven in a bite! You definitely overcame the ‘flat cookie’ hazard. Thanks for the lovely recipe! x
laurasmess Most Recent Post: Aaron {Appreciation Post}


16 Creative Culinary November 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm

It’s really more like caramel fudge; it semi hardens on the cookie. You can make penuche and cut it into pieces just like fudge. You said it…Heaven in a bite is perfect!


17 Tanya November 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I have always wondered how to make brown butter. These look so good.
Tanya Most Recent Post: Three Key Characteristics of a Smart Social Media Policy


18 Creative Culinary November 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I have a post with photos I think; I’m going to find it and link to it. It’s easy…but usually the butter froths and it can be hard to see the liquid and the solids that are browning so keeping a close eye is SO important.


19 Hannah November 5, 2013 at 11:40 am

Barb, I love these cookies! Penuche is my favorite fudge, so of course I would pounce on a plate of penuche cookies. Toasted nuts and brown butter are just too good together. Your photos are making my tummy rumble. I’ve been learning all about high altitude baking in our cabin…definitely a challenge at times!
Hannah Most Recent Post: Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies


20 Creative Culinary November 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

It is a challenge but food never tastes bad…that’s a plus huh? These are so good Hannah; my favorite cookie right now.


21 john@kitchenriffs November 5, 2013 at 9:57 am

Call me nuts, but I love the intense flavor of roasted or toasted pecans, walnuts, peanuts – heck, basically any nut! These look like wonderful cookies. But do I need to bake them at high altitude for the recipe to work? ;-) Really super stuff – thanks!
john@kitchenriffs Most Recent Post: Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Hot Bacon Dressing


22 Creative Culinary November 5, 2013 at 10:25 am

You are nuts! Yes, you have to come here to bake or they won’t work. JUST KIDDING!! I never post a recipe with my revisions; that would be too limiting for everyone else!


23 Abbe@This is How I Cook November 5, 2013 at 8:51 am

There is a lot to love about this recipe. I love the browned butter and the toasted nuts. Of course the frosting is killer. And I always take a divot out, too, but never quite thought of it like that! Easy and luscious!
Abbe@This is How I Cook Most Recent Post: Tortilla Espanola and Come Home to Mama


24 Creative Culinary November 5, 2013 at 10:26 am

Thanks Abbe; we seriously loved them. I mean enough that I hid them from some people. :)


25 Lizzy (Good Things) November 5, 2013 at 6:56 am

Barbara, these cookies sound divine… and your photographs are jaw dropping!
Lizzy (Good Things) Most Recent Post: In My Kitchen – November


26 Creative Culinary November 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm

You are too sweet but I like it! Thanks Liz.


27 Tieghan November 5, 2013 at 5:50 am

Wow! These cookies are incredible! The pecans, the chocolate sauce, the caramel sauce! I love them!
Tieghan Most Recent Post: Cinnamon Brioche Chocolate Chip French Toast Muffins with Coconut Streusel


28 Creative Culinary November 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Thanks Tieghan…I can not deny; we LOVED them!


29 Maureen | Orgasmic Chef November 5, 2013 at 4:30 am

Did someone tell you I was a penuche freak? I don’t make it because I can’t leave it alone. :) I would dance for one of these cookies. On the table, up a pole, you name it, I’d dance there for one of these. LOL
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef Most Recent Post: Simple Pancakes with Salmon and Sour Cream


30 Creative Culinary November 5, 2013 at 10:27 am

I saw your comment early on my phone and died laughing…particularly the ‘up the pole’ part. You’re on and no, I won’t forget! I’ve got the cookies covered; you bring the pole. :)


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