Passion Pecan Cookies

Passion Pecan Cookies

Passion Pecan Cookies with My Nepenthe cookbook opened in the background.

These melt-in-your-mouth cookies are slightly adapted from a recipe out of a favorite cookbook: My Nepenthe ~ Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur. For those of us who love pecan pie, this cookie is a kindred spirit. The original recipe uses coconut, and is titled Passion Cookies in the book. The author, Romney Steele, explains that Richard Burton often requested these cookies during his visits to Nepenthe’s gorgeous restaurant on the coast of Big Sur.

The triple layers in these cookies make it fun to create, and they are easy to serve as a “finger food’ dessert. They are SO GOOD – you truly have to make them to find out! Hmmm . . . I think it’s time to make a second batch.


1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups chopped pecans

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
About 20 pecan halves (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Use the paddle attachment in an electric mixer (or mix with a wooden spoon in a large mixing bowl) and beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Stir in the flour slowly just until fully combined and it looks like coarse corn meal. Pour into greased pan and press firmly and evenly. Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden. Rinse out mixing bowl for the next step.

For the filling, use the paddle attachment* to cream the brown sugar and eggs. Add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking soda then add it to the sugar and egg mixture until just combined. Slowly mix in the pecans. Pour the filling over the still-warm crust and spread evenly. Return to the oven for 20 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack.

For the icing, place the butter in the mixing bowl and sift the powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar) into it. Mix well with paddle attachment and add vanilla. Mix until smooth. Use a little milk or half-and-half to thin if needed – but just a little! The icing needs to be soft enough to spread, but not so soft that it droops and won’t set. Spread over the cookies and cut into small squares. Top each cookie with a pecan half.

*A wooden spoon and large mixing bowl works just as well.

Photo taken by grimmts and featured on IgoUgo.