Friday, December 10, 2010

The Cookie Monster has Arrived

That would be me.  I love to make cookies, especially at Christmas!  I thought I would share a few of my favorite recipes.  Nothing fancy, or complicated, just really good.  So here we go:

Pecan Shortbread
makes about 60 cookies

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter.  (Yes.  I know.  We'll talk about fat grams at a later date.)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups small diced pecans (about 6 oz.)

Mix together butter and sugar with a hand-held mixer or a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add vanilla, then the flour and salt.  Add the pecans.  The dough might seem floury and dry at first, but it will come together.  When it's well combined, divide in thirds, then make 3,  2" diameter logs on sheets of plastic wrap.  

Like this.  Mine were about 11" long.

Roll them on the counter a little to make a nice even, round cylinder.  Twist the ends to seal, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  You can park the dough cylinders in the refrigerator for several days if you need to.

When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Get out 3 cookie sheets.  You don't need to grease the cookie sheets but a sheet of parchment paper makes for easy pan cleanup.
Slice the cookie dough into 1/4" slices, and place on the cookie sheet.  You don't need to leave a lot of space in between the cookies-- there's no egg in them, so they won't spread out very much during baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.  Check them after 20 minutes.  They're done when they have just a little bit of light brown color around the edges.

Cool on a metal rack for a few minutes.

Break out the cold milk,(or hot chocolate or coffee or tea) and enjoy!

You can of course make these using any nut you like or have on hand. I've made these with pistachios and they're delicious, as are walnuts or even pine nuts.  Just make sure whatever nut you use is unsalted.

These also freeze well.

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