Pecan Shortbread Cookies


These delicious cookies are loaded with vanilla flavor because the dough is mixed with an entire vanilla bean as well as vanilla extract. Before baking, the outside of each cookie is coated with turbinado sugar which provides sparkle and crunch.

I have made them several times and love them. ūüôā¬†¬†I find that cookies that contain confectioners’ sugar are more delicate than those with granulated sugar- wonderful. Before refrigerating the dough “log”, I wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in a recycled wrapping paper tube to help maintain the round shape. This recipe¬†was adapted from The Craft of Baking, via¬†Food and Wine, contributed by Karen Demasco (a “staff-favorite” recipe). They would be wonderful holiday cookies.

  • Yield: Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies
  • 3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons demerara or turbinado sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat the oven to 350¬į. Spread the chopped pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 6 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, vanilla extract and salt at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour in 3 batches, beating at low speed until just incorporated. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the pecans.
  3. Transfer the dough to a work surface and roll into a 1 1/2-inch-thick log. Wrap the log in plastic or parchment paper and refrigerate for about 1 hour, until chilled. IMG_5159
  4. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the turbinado sugar on a platter. Brush the log with the egg yolk and roll in the sugar. Slice the log into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake the shortbread cookies for about 13 to 15 minutes (on convection), until the edges are golden; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let stand until cooled completely, about 30 minutes, before serving.

Make ahead: The cookie dough can be frozen for up to 1 month.


One Year Ago: 

Pretzel-Shortbread Bars

Pretzel-Shortbread Bars
My family likes any type of shortbread- this is a sweet and salty version. Broken pretzels are incorporated into the dough and the topping. I love anything baked in a rectangular tart pan too! This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living.
  • Yield:¬†Makes about 2 dozen
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 3 1/4 cups salted miniature twist pretzels
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 4 14-by-13 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment.
  2. Pulse 1 3/4 cups pretzels in a food processor until powdery. Transfer 1/2 cup to a bowl; discard any remaining pretzel powder. Stir in flour and baking powder. Transfer remaining 1 1/2 cups pretzels to food processor, and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.
  3. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and beat in egg yolk, then pretzel-flour mixture, until combined. Mix in 1/2 cup chopped pretzels.
  4. Press dough evenly into pan. Top dough with 1/4 cup chopped pretzels, pressing slightly; discard any remaining pretzels.
  5. Bake shortbread until pale brown and firm in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let shortbread cool for 1 hour. Remove shortbread from pan, and cut into 1/2-inch-wide rectangles using a serrated knife.

Shortbread can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.

St. Patrick’s Day Oatmeal Shortbread

Oatmeal Shortbread

Growing up, our Scottish neighbor gave my family the most wonderful shortbread every year for Christmas. She makes it in a pie dish and cuts it into thick, small wedges, sprinkled with granulated sugar on the top. When we visit my mom for Christmas, my husband asks for a piece the second he walks into the door! I have her recipe, but it isn’t foolproof. A lot of the recipe is done by “feel”and I haven’t been able to reproduce her perfect results. I do LOVE shortbread though! This recipe from Everyday Food is more foolproof. The toasted oatmeal is a nice variation, and gives the shortbread a little bit of a chew. My most discerning dessert taster (my daughter) LOVED them!

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread oats on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until fragrant and lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Let cool completely.
  2. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt, and 1/2 cup cooled oats; process until finely ground, 1 minute. Add butter. Pulse until mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking pan (I lined the pan with parchment paper); press firmly into bottom (I use the bottom of a dry measuring cup to press it flat). Sprinkle remaining oats on top, and press gently.
  3. Bake until firm and lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Using a paring knife, immediately score shortbread into 16 squares; then score each square diagonally into 2 triangles. On a wire rack, cool completely in pan; gently invert, and break along scored lines.

Shortbread Candy Bars

Halloween Candy Shortbread Bars
This is a belated Halloween post. ¬†It was a great way to use up leftover chocolate candy from the kids’ Halloween haul. ¬†This may have been one of the sweetest and most decadent desserts I have ever made. ¬†The secret was to make each serving SMALL- otherwise, it truly was too much of a good thing. ¬†This recipe is from Everyday Food.
Yield: Makes 16 bars
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups assorted chocolate candies or roughly chopped candy bars (12 ounces)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and salt on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. With mixer on low, add flour in three additions and beat until combined (dough will be crumbly). Press dough evenly into an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake until golden brown and firm, 30 to 35 minutes.
  2. Scatter chocolate chips on top of shortbread. Bake until soft, 1 minute. With the back of a spoon, spread chocolate evenly over shortbread. Scatter candies over top. Let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes. Refrigerate briefly to set chocolate, then cut into 16 bars.

Shortbread Snowflakes

Shortbread Snowflakes

This shortbread cookie recipe comes from Eli Zabar of Eli’s Manhattan in New York City, via the Barefoot Contessa Parties cookbook. ¬†The first few years that I made them as a Christmas cookie, I decorated them with silver dragees, so festive. ¬†When silver dragees weren’t readily available, I found myself on an exhaustive search for them at every bakery within 15 miles! ¬†Most of the bakeries were unwilling to part with their supply, I only found one. ¬†Now that that supply has also been depleted, I decorate the cookies with white sugar pearls. Nonpareils would also work well. ¬†To help maintain the shape, I always chill the dough after cutting it into snowflakes, 10 minutes to overnight, tightly wrapped in saran wrap.

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • silver dragees, sugar pearls, or nonpareils for decorating
  1. Mix together the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined.  Add the vanilla.  In another bowl, sift together the flour and salt; add it to the butter and sugar.  Mix until the dough starts to come together.  Dump on a floured board and shape into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick to 1/2 inch thick and cut with desired cookie cutter.  (Chill, if desired) Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes for 1/4 inch thick, to 20-25 minutes for 1/2 inch thick, until the edges begin to brown.  Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Combine the confectioners’ sugar with about 2 tablespoons of water to make a very thin glaze. ¬†Spoon onto the cookies and sprinkle with a few dragees (sugar pearls, etc.) before the glaze dries.

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