Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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Imagine this scene: you’re kicked back on your porch accompanied by good friends and some lazy afternoon sunshine.  Also brought to the party are little pink glasses or raspberry spritzer (With mint leaves! Because it’s cute!) and a tray of toasted pecan shortbread cookies.  Sounds like summer right?

I hold a firm belief that shortbread is equally appropriate in the winter or summer (or whenever)–it all depends on what it’s paired with.

Another combination that would be great with these cookies? Lavender.  Whether you threw in a few teaspoons or so of dried edible lavender to the dough, or served them with lavender lemonade, or lavender iced tea, it would be a match made in heaven.  And it would be so perfect, again, for warm weather.  In fact, I realized this after cleaning the counters when I was testing the recipe…  The pecan cookie scent was still lingering because they had just been taken out of the oven,  and I sprayed some lavender scented cleaning spray on the counters and then promptly flipped out.  It was a-mazing.  I am going to have to try that lavender variation.  Yay for discoveries made…when cleaning?

Anyways, enough about flavor combinations.  These cookies by themselves are so darn good that simply eating them straight out of the oven will result in happy taste buds.

These shortbreads are firm without being overly crispy (however, if you have a taste for much crispier cookies, just leave them in the oven for another minute or two).  Toasting the pecans before adding them to the dough is key because it brings out so much of their flavor.  So. Good. Try them!

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Pecan Shortbread Cookies

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Makes 20 cookies

Prep time 30 minutes

Total time 2 hours

Ingredients:

1 cup raw pecan halves

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Toast pecans for 5-7 minutes until slightly colored.  Take out and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, combine flour and salt in a medium bowl.  When pecans are cooled, take about five pecan halves and chop into fine pieces.  Take the remaining pecans and break more coarsely into pieces with hands.  Add to flour and salt mixture and stir to combine.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and pale in color.  Add a few tablespoons of sugar and beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, to combine.  Continue to add sugar gradually until all of it is incorporated into the butter.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  In four stages, add the flour mixture while beating on low and then medium speed.  Be careful not to overmix—stop mixing as soon as dough is combined.
  4. Divide the dough into two, place both halves of dough on plastic wrap and form disks.  Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour *see baker’s note (a)* (they can be refrigerated for up to two days before baking).
  5. Take one disk of cookie dough out of refrigerator and, with lightly floured hands, make about ten evenly sized balls.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, flattening down slightly with the palm of your hand to create disks that are about ½ inch tall.  Make sure cookies are evenly spaced apart.  Bake for 13-16 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before removing to a cool on a wire rack.
  6. Repeat process with other disk of dough.

Baker’s Notes:

a.) Make sure not to skip refrigerating the dough.  If you don’t refrigerate it, the cookies will spread and become too flat.  Any moisture in the dough will seep out of the sides.  I can’t stress this enough.

b.) Cookies will last for a week when stored at room temperature in an airtight container.