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Thursday, September 15, 2005 

The South Shall Bake Again

The French Quarter looks like it will be opening up soon...maybe not quite ready for business. But, it does ease the heartache just abit.

Despite the name, much of the architecture was built during the Spanish rule over New Orleans rather than the French. A great fire in 1794 destroyed much of the Quarter's old French colonial architecture, leaving the
colony's new Spanish overlords to rebuild it according to more modern tastes -- and strict new fire codes, which mandated that all structures be physically adjacent and close to the curb to create a firewall. The old French peaked roofs were replaced with flat tiled ones, and now-banned wooden siding with fire-resistant stucco, painted in the pastel hues fashionable at the time. As a result, colorful walls and roofs and elaborately decorated ironwork balconies and galleries from both the 18th century and 19th centuries abound. (In southeast Louisiana, a distinction is made between balconies, which have no roof over them, and "galleries," which do.)

Long after the U.S. purchase of Louisiana, descendants of French colonists lived in this part of town, and the French language was often heard there as late as the start of the 20th century.

One can't say the same for the Pecan industry, which is one of the things we prize about the South. Pecans. Fabulous pecans. For more than just pie and pralines, too.

Louisiana Pecan Balls

MAKES: About 28 cookies...can store airtight for up to 3 days

1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans (about 4 oz.)

1. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and the vanilla until smooth.

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and beat on low speed to mix, then on medium speed until well blended. Stir in pecans.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about 1 inch apart on buttered or cooking parchment–lined 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

4. Bake in a 300° regular or convection oven until cookies are pale golden brown, about 25 minutes; if baking more than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking. Let cookies stand on sheets until cool enough to handle.

5. Place remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Gently turn warm cookies, a few at a time, in powdered sugar to coat. Set cookies on racks to cool completely.

Per cookie: 143 cal., 59% (85 cal.) from fat; 1.3 g protein; 9.4 g fat (4.4 g sat.); 14 g carbo (0.5 g fiber); 73 mg sodium; 18 mg chol.

N'awlins - the city baking forgot.

new orleans is so not the city that baking forgot!

is it?

what about those king cakes?

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