One of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving break is curling up with the stack of books I’ve wanted to read for months, but have been to busy for. However, I’m not usually much of a mystery fan… until I discovered Louise Penny a few years ago. Her mysteries, which are set in Quebec, are so… cozy. Not a description usually associated with murder investigations, but I love these characters. And even the grim murders don’t haunt me for days.
But the descriptions of the food? Those stick with me.
Prior to Penny, I knew very little about Quebec, although my beloved next-door-neighbor in childhood was from the area. I find myself googling references to food, from poutine to pain doré.
And recently, she made a reference to a sweet called “pets de sœurs.” One short trip down an internet rabbit hole later, I found pictures of a treat from childhood I’d almost forgotten — what my grandmother called piecrust cookies. However, upon finding that the Quebecois translation is “nun farts” — well, let’s just say my boys have a new favorite cookie.
These are perfect for Thanksgiving when I always seem to buy too many piecrusts. The measurements are far from exact and can be adapted infinitely. My grandmother never devoted a whole pie crust to these, but instead would make just a few with the leftover scraps of crust. Here, I’ve included the recipe for a using a whole crust, but feel free to adjust as needed. These also serve the same function as hush puppies — giving my kids something to snack on while they wait (seemingly forever) for the real meal. A bonus? They make your kitchen smell delicious!
- 1 nine inch piecrust
- 4 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/4 cup white or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 Tablespoon real maple syrup (optional — see note)
- 1 egg for egg wash (optional, but makes the cookies brown and glossy)
- Roll piecrust roughly into a rectangular shape, about the size of a piece of notebook paper.
- Spread the softened butter all over the crust
- Sprinkle with spices and sugar
- Drizzle with maple syrup, if using
- Starting on one of the long sides of your rectangle, roll the dough tightly to form a log. The log should be relatively long and skinny instead of short and fat.
- Using a sharp knife, cut to form spiral cookies that are about 1/4 inch in length. Make sure your cookies are all roughly the same size. Otherwise, they won’t cook evenly, and some will burn while others are still doughy.
- Arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. These don’t spread much at all, so you can place them close.
- Brush lightly with egg wash, if desired. You won’t use very much of the egg wash, but it does give them a brown, glossy color
- Bake at 400 for 9-10 minutes, until cookies are brown
- I’ve only ever made this with store-bought pie crust. My favorite is Pillsbury, but other brands work — you’ll just need to get the kind that is not already pressed into a foil pan.
- I’ve only ever done this with real maple syrup — I’ve never tried it with “pancake syrup” but I think it would be a mess and the flavor would not be as good. If I don’t have real maple syrup, I omit this step.
- You can adjust with other fall spices. I also think you could add finely chopped pecans, walnuts, or apples.
- If you don’t have parchment paper, (a) I recommend it highly for baking, and (b) you should definitely use aluminum foil or a silicone baking mat to aid with cleanup.