Brown Butter, Brown Sugar and Pecans, now that makes a special cookie. There’s nothing like coming home from school to an afternoon snack- especially if it’s warm and home baked! Something sweet after a meal or before bedtime is extra good! Bear Cubs have been on my list of must-try cookies for a good while… They aren’t true Shortbread but filed away with my favorite Shortbread recipes, this old cookie recipe made with browned butter, brown sugar and pecans has a notation- ‘not a true shortbread cookie’ – But so close…so deliciously close, it would make a hungry bear cub very happy!
I suppose, the way the pecan is inserted makes the cookie look like it has a tiny bear paw print! I’ve seen similar recipes by other names-
- Brown Sugar Shortbread,
- Brown Babies and even
- Browned Butter Cookies.
- Without the pecan, I have also found several recipes which were made for fussy babies!
I like the name Bear Cubs….They are an excellent After School treat, wonderful for Holiday Cookie Swaps, delicious at Baby Showers and alongside a cup of Coffee or Tea is just perfect. Even a Grumpy Bear of a man will settle down if you give him a few Bear Cubs!
Bear Cubs aren’t overly sweet cookies. I find them easy to make, easy to freeze and even easier on the tastebuds. Don’t expect them to hang around long once they’re baked! The method for making Bear Cubs is unusual. Butter must be browned and cooled first.
Browned Butter – Melt 3/4 cup of salted butter on medium low in a small saucepan; for approximately 5 minutes heat until nutty brown. There will be foam on the top when it’s hot from the butter fat, but as it cools the foam will subside. Strain it for clarified brown butter- but for Bear Cubs, simply cool the browned butter along with the tasty brown bits before incorporating it into the mixture. (Southerners generally use salted butter but you may use unsalted and add a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients.)
Camellia’s Cottage Bear Cubs
- Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) of salted butter – Browned and Cooled,
- 1 1/2 cup Brown Sugar- packed firmly,
- 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk,
- 2 cups of Self Rising Flour, 3/4 teaspoons Baking Powder, (if you use AP- add 1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder plus 1/4 teaspoons Baking Soda) ,
- 1-2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract,
- Approximately 30 pecan halves cut crosswise in halves,
- A few tablespoons of Granulated Sugar. for dipping.
Sift Self Rising Flour and Baking Powder, set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cooled Brown Butter in a large bowl until fully incorporated and fluffy. Add whole egg /egg yolk and vanilla extract to Brown Sugar/Brown Butter mixture. Mix very well. Stir Flour Mixture into the Butter Mixture in 2-3 batches mixing well after each addition but do not overbeat. With rounded Tablespoon, scoop cookie dough and roll into balls. Then dip roll each ball in granulated sugar, placing them 3 inches apart on a parchment lined sheet pans. Press each ball with a small glass until the cookie is about 1/2 inch thick. Take a pecan piece and insert cut side up in the center of each, as shown. (*At this point Bear Cubs may be frozen on sheet pans for 45 minutes to an hour then stored in freezer safe bags.) Bake each sheet pan on center rack for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Cool in the pans, then transfer to cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container. Makes 4 dozen.
I have to admit, these Bear Cubs don’t hang around any longer than a bear raidin’ a trash can! Bear Cubs are wonderful all by themselves and excellent with Vanilla or Caramel Ice Cream. I think these Brown Butter cookies will become a favorite Autumn treat! Make up a batch of dough to keep in your freezer! *Do not thaw, additional baking time may be required.
The South’s mountainous areas have always had Bears- remember Davy Crockett? He was from Tennessee! Bears are now seen occasionally in populated areas, I heard a Mother Bear and her Cubs were seen walking through a gated community just a couple of weeks ago!
If you find yourself in a den filled with cute little Cubs and growling tummies, a tired Momma Bear or a Grumpy Old Papa Bear- give ’em a Bear Cub! I’ve heard if you eat one of these sweet Bear Cubs before bedtime- you’ll hibernate very well!
Love y’all, Camellia
*All photographs are obviously mine! *Bear Cubs should not be given to very young children- unless made without pecans, which could be a choking hazard or in the case of nut allergies. *Bear Cubs will remain crisp if covered tightly, but are easily crisped up when toasted a few minutes in a 350 degree oven…well, if they last that long!