The recipe comes from The Joy of Cooking, 1964 edition.
My mother had a copy, bought that year, and used it throughout my childhood and for many years after that.
This one is mine; same vintage.
After I moved out (I was going to say grew up and moved out but at 20, there was just no way in hell I could be mistaken for a grownup) I looked in vain for a copy of the book, but there was no internet in 1975 and the used book stores near me were full of dusty hardcover classics and paperback romance novels but no Joy.
35 years later, Mom's copy was worn to tatters, and she went online in search of a replacement. She got one for me, too.
These Pecan Puffs are wonderful. A reminder of one of the nice things from my childhood. The BLP loves them, so I make them every year at this time. Unfortunately, I can no longer eat them. Shortbread cookies just don't agree with me. I make do with the gorgeous toasty-pecan aroma and maybe a tiny nibble if it's early enough in the day.
Here is the recipe, but please take a look at my notes that follow.
1) Double the recipe, right off the bat, if you want to actually get 40 cookies out of this.
This is what I use:
> 1 Cup (2 sticks) salted butter (no, you can't use margarine, but you can substitute about 1/3 with coconut oil)
> 2 Cups flour. I don't sift it and I don't use cake flour.
> 2 Cups pecans, ground. I grind half of them fairly coarse, and the other half very fine
> 4 Tbs. sugar (brown sugar is okay, in part or in whole)
> 1 to 2 tsp. real vanilla extract.
2) The mixture will seem very loose, a lot like pie crust pastry before you start rolling it, only coarser because of the nuts. You should be able to pick it up in a small handful and squash it together, and turn it into a nice round ball about an inch in diameter. it should hold together just fine.
I do wear gloves for this part. I have a box of a zillion blue nitrile (non-latex) gloves anyway, that I use for painting, and my hands are a dry horrid mess from all the time they spend in water. This looks weird but is very comfortable.
And SO hygienic!
3) I use a parchment-covered cookie sheet instead of a greased cookie sheet
4) They take a whole lot longer than 30 minutes to bake, especially if they are this size. Figure about 45 minutes at 300 degrees. You'll know when they are done because the bottoms will begin to brown. The tops will not look cooked.
5) As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle them with powdered confectioner's sugar. Don't wait. Sprinkle them again when you take them off the tray and put them in some kind of storage container.
6) Even if you are tempted, don't bother eating them right away- they're not that good. Wait until many hours later, or ideally, the next day. They need time to develop the right texture and mellow flavor.
Here they are in temporary storage in a silicone baking pan that is frankly good for nothing else. It's too wiggly.
You may have noticed the box of almond paste on the counter behind the puff cookies. It's a new box.
I have to make a second batch of Neapolitans, as the first batch is almost gone. The BLP found them.