Lisa Fain is a seventh generation Texan who left the Lone Star State for New York. Once there, she realized just how much she missed the foods from home, so she started a blog called the Homesick Texan in which she collected recipes that brought back memories of her childhood.
There were recipes for Ninfa’s green sauce (which comes from Fain’s Houston background), capirotada, Dad’s giblet gravy and buttermilk dressing.
The success of the blog has led to a cookbook, aptly titled “The Homesick Texan Cookbook” (Hyperion, $29.99), for which Fain has supplied the rustic photographs as well as the recipes, many of which you will not find on her site.
Fain has been back on the roads through Texas this week, promoting the book. Her tour took her Tuesday to the Twig Bookstore at the Pearl Brewery, where every copy in stock sold out long before the end of her scheduled signing time. That’s indicative of the success that the straight-talking Fain has met both in her home state, in New York and elsewhere.
So, what recipe would be a good introduction to the world of the Homesick Texan? Fain thought for a moment before answering, “Mexican Chocolate Chewies.” If you have a taste for really good chocolate cookies, you’ll understand from the first bite why she chose this recipe.
“Chocolate chewies are light, crisp and, yes, chewy chocolate cookies that are stuffed with chocolate chips and pecans,” she writes in the introduction to the recipe. “You see them at bakeries all over Texas, and yet not too many people make them at home. There’s really no reason for this, especially as they’re a snap to make. I’ve added a bit of cinnamon and chipotle chile powder to give them a bit of spice and heat.”
Mexican Chocolate Chewies
2 cups pecans, roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
While oven is heating, arrange the chopped pecans in a skillet and place in the oven for 5 minutes or until they’ve turned a bit darker brown (but not black) and smell fragrant. Mix roasted pecans with the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chipotle chile powder and salt.
Stir the egg whites into the dry mixture by hand (or beat with a stand mixer on low) just until the batter is well mixed. Stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips. Drop tablespoon-size portions of batter on the sheet an inch apart, about six per sheet, as these cookies will spread during baking. Bake for 15 minutes or until crackling on the surface.
Remove sheet from the oven, lift the parchment paper with the cookies still on it off the sheet, and cool on a rack. Allow cookies to cool for 20 minutes before removing from paper, as they’re very delicate. They will keep for a few days in an airtight container.
Makes 36 cookies.
From “The Homesick Texan” by Lisa Fain