And you're going to want seconds.

Marisa Spyker

Blame it on the Southerner in me, but in the eternal Thanksgiving table debate of pumpkin versus pecan pie, I've hands-down always been Team Pecan. From the filling texture to the caramely, nutty sweetness and buttery shell, pecan pie, in my opinion, has all the makings of the perfect fall dessert.

Which is why, as someone who loves cooking and baking, it came as quite the surprise when it dawned on me recently that I've never actually made pecan pie myself. So whose pecan pie is the recipient of my unwavering affection? That would be La Patisserie de Publix. Growing up in Florida with a mom who regarded the microwave as the ultimate cooking tool, Publix often catered much of our holiday menus, pies included. And I'm not complaining—Publix, thankfully, is kind of the best.

But given that I no longer live near a Publix—the horror, I know—I've decided that this'll be the year when I finally whip up a pecan pie myself. So, when presented with an opportunity, via the Southern Living Cookie Swap, to take a baby step toward my fall cooking goals, I jumped. Enter pecan pie in the form of a cookie.

Watch: 80 Splurge-Worthy Thanksgiving Desserts


Now, as any diehard pie lover knows, you can't really expect a cookie to do a pie's job. But in terms of flavor, these Pecan Pie Cookies are spot on. In lieu of a crust, there's a buttery shortbread cookie base made with dark corn syrup to deliver a hit of caramely flavor. A "filling" is made separately by simmering together butter, powdered sugar, and more dark corn syrup, then whisking in a flurry of chopped pecans.

In terms of ease, these cookies probably aren't the quickest to whip up in a pinch, as they require multiple steps and a considerable amount of dirty dishes. But, take it from someone who's known to cut corners and overzealously substitute when baking: You'll want to follow directions with these. Refrigeration, for example, is crucial for both parts of the recipe, since it prevents the cookie dough from flattening in the oven and allows the pecan mixture to set.

Photo: Marisa Spyker

That's a lesson I may have learned the hard way. It didn't dawn on me until after I took these out of the oven that they were probably supposed to look more like cute little thumbprint cookies, rather than like a corn-syrup-pecan-bomb exploded all over the top of a shortbread cookie. (I attribute this to too-little refrigeration time on the filling.)

My version probably wouldn't win any presentation points in the Great British Bake-Off, but, nevertheless, they disappeared from my cookie jar in a matter of days. And the best part about them? I now feel just a tad more confident (and infinitely more excited) about serving my first-ever non-Publix pecan pie at my holiday table this year.

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