Southern Voices on Pecans: Carrie Morey, Callie’s Biscuits
By Stephanie Burt
When I spoke to Carrie Morey recently via phone, she was driving her newly minted food truck on the highway, the sound of the diesel engine in the background of our conversation. Diesel fuel (jet engine, probably) is what this Callie’s Biscuits founder seems to have in her veins; she’s always looking forward, thinking about the next project, the next opening, and sometimes even the next meal.
That anticipatory view of life is one that keeps her vibrant and fully engaged, and it seems like she’s had that quality from the beginning, even when it comes to something as simple as pecans. “I have a vivid memory as a young child, looking forward each year to a Christmas Eve party at the Keynote’s house in Charleston,” she recalls. “I’ve always been more of a savory person -- even as a child -- and they always had these toasted pecans every year at that party. They were probably very simple, just butter and salt, but that was about all I’d eat at the party, a child hanging around the bar eating the bar snacks that weren’t really for me. They were so wonderful.”
It’s easy to imagine a small girl’s hand reaching through a crowd of adults, glassware, and revelry on a mission of its own -- to fulfill not a sugarplum vision but a savory Southern one with the toasty pecans she remembered each year. Now, as a mother of three, she’s always welcoming her girls into the kitchen with her. It was cooking for her growing family that led her to write Callie’s Biscuits & Southern Traditions. Filled with family recollections and sweet and savory recipes, it includes a recipe that takes that idea of buttery, warm pecans, sweetens it up, and swirls it into biscuit dough. The name, Cinnamon Stickies, comes from that time in the kitchen with her children, and they could be just the thing to create holiday memories in your family kitchen. For Morey, cooking is inextricably linked to family traditions, and in her family kitchen, there’s always a bowl of snacking pecans on the counter, and sometimes, Cinnamon Stickies in the oven.
Makes 10 to 12 stickies
2 cups self-rising flour (White Lily preferred), plus more for dusting
1⁄3 cup white sugar
1⁄3 cup packed light brown sugar
14 tablespoons (1. sticks) butter:
8 tablespoons cut in cubes, at room temperature, and 6 tablespoons melted
1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup whole buttermilk, plus 1 tablespoon if needed (may substitute low-fat buttermilk)
1 cup chopped pecans
1⁄. cup white sugar
1⁄. cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and flour the paper generously.
2 Measure the flour into a large bowl. Mix in the white and brown sugars. Incorporate the cubed butter and then the cream cheese into the flour, using your fingers to “cut in” the butter and cheese until the mixture resembles chunky cottage cheese.
3 Make a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk and, using your hands or a small rubber spatula, mix the flour into the buttermilk. The dough will be wet and messy.
4 Sprinkle flour on the dough and turn the dough onto the parchment paper. Press into a rectangle. Flour the top generously and roll out to a 1/4-inch thickness into a rectangle. Use a pastry brush to brush excess flour from the dough.
5 Brush the surface with 4 tablespoons of the melted butter.
6 Make the topping: Stir together all the ingredients. Sprinkle two-thirds of the topping over the dough.
7 With well-floured hands, working from a long side, begin rolling the dough into a log, using the parchment paper to lift and roll the dough. Smooth the dough, and keeping it on the baking sheet, freeze for 45 minutes.
8 While the log is freezing, preheat the oven to 500°F. Put parchment paper on a baking sheet. If using a cast-iron skillet, no greasing or parchment paper is necessary.
9 Trim the ends of the log and cut in ó-inch-thick slices, using a serrated knife. (Flouring the knife will help cut through the dough.)
10 Lay the stickies flat on the prepared pan. Brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining topping.
11 Place in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 400°F. Bake 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan once, until golden brown.
12 Serve warm.
Note: You can make, shape, and top these the night before and keep in the fridge to bake in the morning.