This praline cookie is wonderful with or without the chocolate. In fact I have made it many times, and while I was waiting for the cookies to cool...somehow a few cookies would vanish every time my boyfriend went through the kitchen.
Cream butter and brown sugar together with an electric hand mixer, or if you would rather do it by hand, a heavy spatula will work.
Add the baking powder and egg until the mixture looks smooth and creamy.
Beat in the vanilla extract.
Slowly beat the flour into the mixture, a quarter cup at a time until you use all the flour.
Add your pecans or walnuts. (I have used both together, and apart, either way they taste wonderful! In fact I have even altered this recipe and used ground almonds).
If you think the dough is too warm you may want to put it in the freezer. When I bake in the winter I often will put all my cookie doughs in the freezer for fifteen minutes before working with them. If the dough is too warm, it will spread while baking and you will get pancakes rather then cookies :).
Take the dough from the freezer and drop it by the teaspoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet approx 2 inches apart.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookie looks golden, when you lift the cookies they should have an even color on the bottom.
Cool the cookies on a wire rack until they are cool to touch.
While the cookies cool gather your semisweet chips and vegetable shortening in a small sandwich baggie. If you want you can use a chocolate melting double boiler. Personally I like to do things the quick and easy way, so take your baggie of chocolate and shortening and seal it closed, then put it in a bowl of warm water. Wait approximately five minutes and the chocolate should have melted. If not repeat with warmer water. Use your finger to make sure the chocolate and shortening have mixed.
Using a scissors snip the corner of the sandwich baggie and drizzle the chocolate over the cooled cookies. For small drizzles make only a slight cut in the corner of the bag, for larger chocolate lines, make a larger cut. I usually make designs on the cookies with the chocolate. Simple criss cross lines look elegant and sophisticated.
These cookies are one of my favorites, and I often bring them to parties or special occasions because of their beautiful appearance and interesting flavor.
**To Toast Nuts**.
Set oven to 350°F.
Place nuts on baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake for approximately 5-8 minutes checking frequently, and stirring them about on the sheet. They should become a golden bronze color, depending on the nut. The toasting of nuts will allow for a richer flavor usually.