Week 6: Vegan Spice Loaf Cake with Orange “Cream Cheese” Frosting & Vegan Maple-Caramel Pecan Pie – Facebook Poll Question Winner – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

It’s the final week of my Thanksgiving recipe series, y’all! I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I’ve enjoyed doing it. Remember, if you make any or all of the recipes I’ve shared, be sure to post a pic on social media and tag it with the hashtag for this series (#aCITSIthanksgiving) so that I can see your beautiful Thanksgiving feasts. Okay now, it’s time to talk desserts!

No Thanksgiving menu is complete, in my mind, unless there’s a pie, which I’ll get to a little further down in this post however, I want to talk about another dessert first. You see, while I feel that a pie is obligatory, I also feel that a non-pie dessert is obligatory too. For the non-pie dessert this year, I decided to do a loaf cake. This gingerbread-esque cake is loaded with the spices of the season (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger) and is topped with a refreshing orange “cream cheese” frosting!

It all gets started with the combining of the wet ingredients. Once those have been thoroughly whisked together then the dry ingredients (including all of those lovely spices) get added. When the cake batter is smooth it gets poured into a greased and floured loaf pan then popped into a preheated oven where it will bake for about an hour.

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While the cake is baking up, you can make the orange “cream cheese” frosting. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl using a hand mixer, equal parts of vegan “cream cheese” and vegan “butter” are combined with a little bit of fresh squeezed orange juice. Once smooth, turn the mixer down to low and add in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a firmer, buttercream-like consistency.

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When the cake is done, let it cool completely before frosting it. Over top of the frosted cake I like to sprinkle a light dusting of cinnamon as well as some orange zest which, as you might notice, is missing from the final photo below as I accidentally tossed my orange zest down the sink! Hot tip: don’t toss your orange zest down the sink. (But do toss it on this cake!)

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Vegan Spice Loaf Cake With Orange 'Cream Cheese' Frosting

  • Servings: 8-10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray + flour for pan
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 (4-ounce) snack cup of unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup vegan “butter,” melted + 2 1/2 tablespoons for frosting, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegan “cream cheese”
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • About 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • Zest from 1 orange + cinnamon for dusting over frosted cake (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan for use in a moment by spraying the inside with nonstick cooking spray then coating it with a light dusting of flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, brown sugar, applesauce, oil, 1/4 cup melted “butter,” and the vanilla. When smooth, add in the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until smooth again then pour cake batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  2. While cake is baking, make the frosting. In a stand mixer, or in a bowl where you’ll use a hand mixer, combine 2 1/2 tablespoons softened “butter” with 2 1/2 tablespoons  “cream cheese” and 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice. Beat until smooth then reduce speed to low and add in the powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until the frosting reaches a firmer, buttercream-like consistency.
  3. When cake is done, let it cool completely before frosting it. After frosting the cake, lightly dust the top of it with some more cinnamon and the zest from 1 orange (optional). Finished cake can be kept in an airtight container in fridge for up to 4 days -just be sure to bring the cake back up to room temperature before serving.


And now, my dears, it’s time for pie!

I asked y’all in a poll on Facebook how you liked your pecan pie to be made, in pie form, in cake form, in cookie form, etc., and overwhelmingly people picked “in pie form.” I too love pecan pie as an actual pie but I wanted to do a slightly different take on this southern classic to make it something truly special for this series. What was that different take? Well, traditional pecan pie filling has a lot of corn syrup in it but I opted for a decent amount of maple syrup instead. The maple syrup offers up more flavor than the corn syrup and it also changes the texture of the pie. The normal texture of a pecan pie is kind of gelatinous and gloppy but the texture of this pecan pie is creamy, ooey, gooey, and caramel-like (see picture below). I’ve made and enjoyed a lot of pecan pies over the years but this is seriously the best and it couldn’t be easier to make!

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For this pie, you’re going to use your favorite premade (and vegan) pie crust or make your own using one of the many wonderful vegan pie crust recipes all over the internet! Pop your pie crust into a 9-inch glass pie pan (if not glass then the oven temperature will need to be increased by 25 degrees). Poke the crust with a fork so that it is less likely to puff or rise during the baking process then set the pie pan in the fridge so that the crust remains as cool as possible until baking -this allows for a flakier pie crust. Now, it’s time to make the filling for our pie.

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To make the filling for our pie you’ll combine egg replacer (Ener-G) with maple syrup, brown sugar, a little bit of corn syrup, some vegan “butter,” flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. While whisking occasionally to ensure a smooth filling, bring the mixture to a soft (not roaring) boil. Once boiling, boil for 2 1/2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer the pie filling for another 2 1/2 minutes -continue to whisk occasionally throughout this time. When the final 2 1/2 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for a moment while we move on to the next step.

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Remove the pie pan from your fridge and toss into the crust 1 1/2 cups of pecans -I prefer a combo of pecan halves and chopped pecans however you can do just halves or just chopped pecans if you prefer. Next, carefully (because we’re dealing with hot stuff here) pour the pie filling that you made a moment ago over the pecans. Place the pie into a preheated 325 degree oven and bake for an hour.

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When the pie is done, it will be somewhat giggly still but don’t let that worry you as it will finish setting up as it cools. Place the pie pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely (preferably overnight) before serving.

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Vegan Maple-Caramel Pecan Pie

  • Servings: 10
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • Pie crust of your choosing for a 9-inch pie pan
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 3 eggs, prepared according to instructions on Ener-G box
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons vegan “butter”
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, halves or chopped or a mixture of the two styles

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees if using a glass pie pan or 350 degrees if using any other pie pan. Prepare the Ener-G for 3 eggs, if you haven’t done so already, in accordance with the instructions on the box then set this mixture aside for a moment. Put the pie crust of your choosing into your 9-inch pie pan then trim it to fit and poke the crust with a fork so that it is less likely to puff or rise during the baking process. Place the pie pan in fridge so that the crust remains as cool as possible until baking. Move on to making the pie filling.
  2. To make the pie filling, combine in a saucepan over medium-high heat the Ener-G you prepared a moment ago with the maple syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup, “butter,” flour, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. While whisking occasionally to ensure a smooth filling, bring the mixture to a soft (not roaring) boil. Once boiling, boil for 2 1/2 minutes then reduce the heat to simmer for another 2 1/2 minutes, still whisking occasionally. When the final 2 1/2 minutes has passed, turn off the heat and let the mixture rest for a moment.
  3. Remove the pie pan from your fridge and toss into the crust 1 1/2 cups of pecans -I prefer a combo of pecan halves and chopped pecans however you can do just halves or just chopped pecans if you prefer. Next, carefully (because it’s hot) pour the pie filling that you made a moment ago over the pecans. Place the pie into your preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. When the pie is done, it will be somewhat giggly still but don’t let that worry you as it will finish setting up as it cools. Place the pie pan onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely (preferably overnight) before serving. Finished pie will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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Week 2: Vegan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Glaze – A Compassion is the Secret Ingredient Thanksgiving

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Week 2 is here and it’s time to take on sweet potatoes, but first, a confession… sweet potatoes aren’t my jam! I have a crazy-obsessive love for normal potatoes but that love never extended to the potatoes cousin, the sweet potato. I am well aware however, that no Thanksgiving feast is complete without ’em, and so, I knew that I needed some kind of sweet potato recipe in my Thanksgiving series!

Now, growing up, there was always a small dish of mashed sweet potatoes on our Thanksgiving table. (The dish was small because my mom was the only one who enjoyed eating them.) On top of the dish, a thick, toasted, gooey layer of mini marshmallows created a blanket that I wished I could have been under. I always thought to myself though, why do we need two mashed things? That was the starting point for this recipe.

These little babies are roasted which gives them a great texture. They are also coated not once but twice in a cinnamon glaze which has just the right amount of sweetness but is still savory and full-flavored. Right before serving, I like to add in some dried cranberries for a tart, chewy element, and a little more color, as well as some pecan halves for a little bitter, nutty crunch -but of course, each these are totally optional. Whether you choose to fancy ’em up with toppings or not, I’m sure you’ll find that this recipe is quite delicious and perfectly suited to replace any ol’ mashed sweet potato recipe that normally adorns your table. And dare I say, I may actually have enjoyed these… #ConvertInTheMaking

It all gets started with the making of the cinnamon glaze! In a large bowl, maple syrup gets combined with some melted vegan “butter,” olive oil, cinnamon, dried thyme, low-sodium tamari, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. The whole mixture gets a good whisking and then it gets set aside for a moment while the sweet potatoes are being prepped.

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4 medium size sweet potatoes get washed up well then completely peeled and cut into pieces that are about 1-inch square.

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Once all of the sweet potatoes have been cut up, dump them into the bowl with the glaze in it. Fold/stir everything around so that each piece gets coated with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon so as to not remove any glaze which remains at the bottom of the bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and transfer them to a large sheet pan lined in parchment paper. (Make sure they are flat on the pan in a single layer and not all bunched up or piled onto each other.) Reserve the glaze that remains at the bottom of the bowl once all of the sweet potatoes have been scooped out -it will be added to the sweet potatoes after they’ve cooked a little. Pop the sheet pan into a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes.

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After 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and gently flip around the sweet potatoes to ensure even cooking. With what you reserved earlier, glaze the sweet potatoes again by simply pouring the glaze over them evenly. Return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes or until fork tender.

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To serve, transfer the sweet potatoes to a bowl or dish and top with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecan halves (optional).

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Vegan Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Glaze

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 generous tablespoons vegan “butter,” melted
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 generous teaspoon dried thyme, crushed in palm of hand
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium tamari
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Dried cranberries, to taste (optional)
  • Pecan halves, to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a large sheet pan by lining it in parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the maple syrup with the “butter,” olive oil, cinnamon, dried thyme, tamari, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Whisk this mixture well then set aside. Prep sweet potatoes, if you haven’t done so already, by washing them, peeling them, and then cutting them down into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Toss sweet potato pieces into the bowl with the glaze and stir/fold everything around so that each piece gets coated with the glaze. Using a slotted spoon so as to not remove any glaze which remains at the bottom of the bowl, scoop out the sweet potatoes and transfer them to the sheet pan you prepped a moment ago. (Make sure they are flat on the pan in a single layer and not all bunched up or piled onto each other.) Reserve the glaze that remains at the bottom of the bowl once all of the sweet potatoes have been scooped out -it will be added to the sweet potatoes after they’ve cooked a little. Pop the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  3. After 25 minutes, pull the pan from the oven and gently flip around the sweet potatoes to ensure even cooking. Pour the glaze you reserved earlier over the sweet potatoes evenly then return the pan to the oven and bake for a final 20 minutes or until fork tender. To serve, transfer the sweet potatoes to a bowl or dish and top with a sprinkling of dried cranberries and pecan halves (optional). Leftover sweet potatoes will keep in an airtight container in fridge for up to 3 days.

Vegan Lunch Box Brownies – Facebook Poll Question Winner

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Way back in March of this year, on Facebook, I posed a poll question to y’all -should brownies be frosted or left naked? Surely, I thought, it would be nearly impossible to have a true winner because I, myself, think each are pretty tasty in their own right. But y’all knew what you loved and overwhelmingly so. Naked brownies won by a mile! Fast forward 7 months later and here I am with my recipe for just such brownies!

Now, of course, these brownies were greatly inspired by all of you who participated in my little poll but they were also inspired by the brownies of my childhood. It wasn’t every day when a brownie came along in my young life so, when one did, I savored it to the point of almost studying every delicious morsel. In doing this, I figured out that the perfect brownie is one that’s fudgy, but not crazily so, soft, decadently chocolatey, and there simply must be some kind of nut in it. For me, that nut is the pecan but of course you’re free to choose the nut you enjoy the most. When it all comes together it’s magic -and easy to do magic at that!

It all gets started by combining the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt get whisked together until smooth. Once smooth, some melted dairy-free chocolate gets added along with some applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and a little vanilla, and the whole thing gets whisked once more until smooth. Next, chopped pecans get folded in and with that our brownie batter is complete!

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Dump the batter out into a parchment lined 9×9 pan. Using a silicone spatula, pat the batter down and around so that it fills out the pan evenly, then use the spatula to smooth out the top a little. Pop the pan into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. When the brownies are done and out of the oven, keep them in their pan and let them rest there for 15 minutes before pulling them out to cut and serve.

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Vegan Lunch Box Brownies

  • Servings: 9-12
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free (vegan) chocolate chips or chunks, melted in a double boiler or in the microwave
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (or whatever nut you would prefer)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×9 pan by lining it with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and whisk until smooth. Once smooth, add in the melted dairy-free chocolate, applesauce, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla, and whisk once more until smooth. Fold in the chopped pecans.
  2. Dump the batter out into the prepared pan then, using a silicone spatula, pat the batter out so that it fills out the bottom of the pan evenly. Use the spatula to smooth out the top of the batter and then place the pan into your preheated oven for 25 minutes. When the brownies are done and out of the oven, keep in pan for 15 minutes before pulling them out to cut and serve. Brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

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Ah, chocolate chip cookies. The cookie which seems to be on everyone’s list was never really a favorite of mine -until I went vegan, that is. A couple months into going vegan I found myself craving baked good goodness. (Say that 10 times fast!) I ended up discovering a whole section in the dairy case at WF devoted to vegan (and some gluten free) cookie dough. Every time I bought one of these little tubs of yum I had every intention on baking up all of the dough, but it never failed that every raw bit of it ended up being scooped into my mouth by the spoonful. #NoShame

Eventually I managed to drop the spoon and let the oven do it’s thing long enough to have actual chocolate chip cookies, and that’s when I began to fall in love. However, me being the ever unsatisfied, tortured-artist-esque, slightly OCD perfectionist that I am, I had to figure out a way to do one of America’s favorite cookies my way. (Which is the better way. Most of the time.)

First things first I knew that it had to be 100% vegan (obvi). I also knew that I wanted the recipe to be just like mom used to make -my mom, not yours. Then came the flash of brilliance -nuts. Pecans, to be precise. And that’s how my like-mom-used-to-make, 100% vegan, chocolate chip pecan cookies came to be. They’re simple, classic, and oh-so-good.

Whether you choose to shovel spoonfuls of raw dough in your mouth (no judgement), or manage to bake up the whole batch, is up to you. Either way, I’m sure you’ll love this recipe and I’m sure your non-vegan family and friends will love it too –mine do! Best of all, nobody would ever guess that they’re vegan (by look or taste) so if you feel the urge to drop the v-bomb on your unsuspecting audience just as they bite into your baked deliciousness you might get a, “No way!” And who doesn’t love that?

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The first step is to combine the dry ingredients. Once combined, set them aside and get the wet ingredients combined.

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Getting the wet ingredients combined begins with creaming the vegan butter together with the 2 sugars. I used my stand mixer for this step but you could do this by hand if you wanted to.

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Once you’ve achieved creamy glory you then can add in the vanilla and the egg substitute. For most of the baking I do I prefer to use Ener-G which gets mixed with water (see below). Follow the instructions on the box for the quantity your recipe (in this case, this recipe) calls for, and don’t worry if you’ve got some clumps -the mixer will work those out for you.

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After all of your wet ingredients have been combined you can then add the dry to the wet. I add it a 1/2 cup at a time while my mixer is on it’s lowest speed. After all of the dry has been added in I then turn the mixer up a notch or two for just just a few seconds to make sure the dough is smooth and well combined.

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Now you can add in the chocolate chips and the pecans but be sure to fold those in together by hand so as to not overwork your dough. To transform the raw dough into cookies (should you wish to do that) I first use a 1″ cookie scoop to get a little dough.

Using a cookie scoop is not necessary (you could just use a spoon or two) but I highly recommend you use one. Using a cookie scoop helps to insure that all of your cookies are the same size so that they all bake up at the same time. And it’s not like cookie scoops are super expensive. And they’re fun to use. And they’re shiny. Okay, I’m done now, but seriously get yo’self one.

Plop your ball of dough out into the palm of your hand and then form it into a flattened disk.

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Place the disks on 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets (aka sheet pans), fairly close together but not touching. They will spread but only ever so slightly so you can pack them in pretty good. Bake ’em off and you’re almost done.

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Once you’ve taken them out of the oven you must resist the urge to grab one right away. They need to rest for a bit (10-15 minutes) on the pan so that they don’t just fall apart in your hand -unless that’s what you’re going for, I mean. You do you, boo.

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Once they’ve had a good rest you can then transfer them to an airtight container, where they’ll keep for about 3 days, or simply transfer them to your mouth while they’re still a little warm and melty.

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Vegan Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

  • Servings: about 40 (3-inch) cookies
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of vegan butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • Substitute for 2 eggs (I used Ener-G!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare 2 cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer cream the butter together with the 2 sugars until smooth and creamy. About 1 minute on low-medium speed. Add in the egg replacer and vanilla and beat for 1 more minute to combine.
  4. With mixer on lowest speed, add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, a 1/2 cup at a time. Allow each addition to work in a little before adding the next. When all of the dry mixture has been added turn the speed up 1 or 2 levels for just 1 minute more.
  5. Remove bowl from stand mixer and by hand, fold in the chocolate chips and the pecans.
  6. Using a 1″ (small) cookie scoop, scoop out a ball of dough into your hand then form it into a flattened disk shape. Place the disks onto your cookie sheets then bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cookies will still be a little soft and lightly golden-brown on the bottom when they’re done.
  7. Let the cookies rest on the pan for 10-15 minutes before transferring to an airtight container. Cookies will keep fresh for about 3 days when stored properly.