Cinnamon rolls are one of my very favorite breakfast indulgences. Sticky buns are up there too if you skip the pecans. Can I still call them sticky buns without the nuts? In any case, they're both right up my alley - enriched dough loaded with cinnamon and brown sugar goodness baked until soft and gooey - yum! It doesn't get much better than that in my opinion. I like to make them almost as much as I love eating them. There's something so satisfying about working the dough, shaping the rolls, watching them rise and then peeking into the oven to see them turning golden brown, knowing you're oh so close to finally enjoying the fruits of your labor. The only problem is that the yeast dough they're made with does require a little bit of advance planning. You can't decide you're craving a cinnamon roll or sticky bun and make them from start to finish in less than an hour. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way.
For that reason, I was so intrigued when I saw these cookies. They seemed like a nice compromise - gooey and rich sticky buns in cookie form that are quick and easy to prep and bake. Plus they're mini, and mini treats are just fun. I made some with the pecans and some without; they turned out great both ways. The rough dough was surprisingly easy to roll and cut. You won't be able to pinch the ends of the dough when you roll it the way you might with a yeast recipe (at least I couldn't) but don't worry about that - they'll be fine in the oven. Once baked, the outside of the cookies is firm, but when you bite in you'll discover a rich, tender center. They're the perfect little bite of sweetness, and I'll warn you now that it's all too easy to mindlessly grab one after another if you're not paying attention :)
Sticky Pecan Bites
from Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich
24 pecan halves
1 cup (4.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (3.5 oz) packed brown sugar (I used light brown)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 400 F and place a rack in the lower third. Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Add one pecan half to each well of the prepared pan - top down.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the heavy cream to the bowl and use a rubber spatula to stir the cream into the flour mixture. Mix only until the dough comes together and the dry ingredients are moistened - it will be a rough dough. Let the dough rest for 3 minutes and in the meantime, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12x7-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the softened butter over the dough, sprinkle it with a pinch of salt and then scatter the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly (no need to leave a border - sprinkle all the way to the edges. Starting at a short end, roll the dough up tightly. Stretch the roll gently to lengthen it. Cut into 24 equal pieces and place one in each well of the muffin pan (on top of the pecan halves).
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately turn the cookies out onto a piece of parchment paper. The cookies are best served the day they're made.