Thursday, December 1, 2011

BAREFOOT CONTESSA'S PECAN SHORTBREAD


This year was a bad one for New Bern area pecans, thanks to the unwelcome visit of one blustery Irene.  All the unripe nuts were blown off the trees before they could be harvested.  Fortunately, I found pecans at Sam's Club and I still have some in my freezer from last year.  I love the buttery flavor of pecans, especially in shortbread cookies where they can be the star.  Like this recipe from Ina Garten.  These are simple cookies, but oh, so very good, with a nice flavor from almond and vanilla extracts.  They would love to have a place on your holiday cookie tray.

Pecan Shortbread
Source:  The Barefoot Contessa
Rating:  9 out of 10
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3/4 lb. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used my homemade vanilla.)
1 tsp. pure almond extract
3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt
1-1/2 cups small diced pecans

Heat oven to 350F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, using low speed, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined.  Add flavorings.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter/sugar mixture.  Add pecans and mix on low speed until dough starts to come together.  Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll  dough 1/2" thick and cut into 2-1/2" squares with a plain or fluted cutter, or cut into any shape you like.  Place cookies on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 20-25 minutes, util edges begin to brown.  Cool on wire racks.  Yield:  about 20-24 cookies, depending on size.

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