Recipe 19: The Joy of Cooking’s Pecan (or Walnut) Puffs (1923)

I have eaten all of the cookies at home and have vowed to use what I have to make what I need instead of going to the store. I found a copy of the original The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker online and saw the recipe for Pecan Puffs on Page 615. The cookies looked easy to make, so simple that even I could not screw them up.

The recipe description reads like a romance novel:

There is a strong family resemblance between this and the following rule. Rich and devastating. Very good.

The Joy of Cooking (page 615)

I mean, how can you go wrong with something that’s described as “devastating”? I have no idea what “the following rule” is. Maybe the following recipe for Jelly Tots on the next page of the book?

The recipe is as follows:

Makes about 32 1½ inch cakes

Beat until soft: ½ cup of butter

Add and blend until creamy: 2 tablespoons sugar

Add: 1 teaspoon vanilla

Measure, then grind in a nut mill: 1 cup pecans or walnuts

Sift before measuring: 1 cup cake flour

Stir the pecans and flour into the butter mixture. Roll the dough into small balls. Place them on a grased baking sheet. Bake them in a slow oven at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Roll the puffs while hot in: Icing sugar

When cold roll them again in icing sugar

I halved the recipe because I didn’t think I could eat 32 cookies on my own.

The first step is to soften the butter. I did this by hand. This was hard. I do not recommend this, especially if there is an electric mixer handy.

After softening the butter, add the sugar and blend until creamy.

I hoped that was creamy enough. I said a silent prayer that this was sufficient.

Next, add the vanilla, which is pretty self-explanatory.

Then, measure and grind the pecans or walnuts. I went to the pantry and was relieved that the recipe called for either nut because I only had walnuts on hand.

However, I did NOT have a nut grinder on hand and had to improvise. I have no idea if I should have done this this way but had no choice.

Again, I said a silent prayer that the nuts were sufficiently ground by the end of this because my arms really hurt and I was sweaty by the time I was done. Perhaps an investment in a mortar and pestle is in order.

Following that, sift and measure the cake flour…

…and combine all ingredients!

This did not look like nearly enough dough to make 16 cookies. I said another silent prayer that I would have enough dough as I rolled the dough into small balls and put them on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 45 minutes and remove from the oven.

A few are upside down (obviously) to show what the cookies look like on the bottom when finished

Finally, sprinkle with powdered sugar once when hot…

…and once when cool!

I really wanted every square inch of cookie to be covered in powdered sugar but no matter what I did there seemed to be a few bare spots.

I had an ah-ha moment as I was making these and realized what kind of cookies these would be. I’ve seen these powdered nut cookies before (and had them many times) and they are delicious (or should I say…devastating?) and tasty. I just did not know from the description in the recipe that these cookies are the ones that I would be making. I texted my mom a picture of the cookies (I’m always so pleased when I make something that is edible) and she said, “Oh, are those pecan cookies covered with confectioner’s sugar? My mother used to make those!” so I guess these cookies are universally identifiable and known.

Time Travel Experience: I’d say I feel like I traveled back in time because of all of the sweat and effort I put into making these! Everything was done by hand, which probably made it even harder than it would have been for someone making these in the 1920’s. My Meema made these at some point during her life and my own mother ate them, so that was an unexpected link to my own family’s past! Cool!

Overall Experience: My husband (working from home) had one as a snack and said these were very good. How could anything covered in mounds of powdered sugar be anything but delicious!

4 thoughts on “Recipe 19: The Joy of Cooking’s Pecan (or Walnut) Puffs (1923)

    1. Oh yum! That sounds SO good! I will have to try that once things are normal again. Mom said when Meema made her cookies she “winged it” too, and I would imagine that probably made the cookies even better! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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