All butter Pecan Shortbread uses only five ingredients. These delicately flavored cookies are filled with toasted pecans, and have a rich buttery texture. They are delicious and elegant, but simple enough to make for any occasion, making them the perfect cookie.
These awesome cookies utilize a technique that Dorie Greenspan uses in rolling out the sticky dough. She places the dough in a gallon ziploc bag and rolls it out with a rolling pin. Absolutely brilliant in my opinion!
I first blogged about these incredible cookies on August 11, 2012. This is an updated post with new photographs and re-written text.
Ingredients for Pecan Shortbread:
I used the following ingredients for the Pecan Shortbread: Room temperature unsalted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, and roasted pecans.
Making the Dough for Pecan Shortbread:
First, I beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla together with my electric mixer on medium speed for about a minute, or until the mixture was smooth. Because it’s shortbread, you don’t want to beat the butter until it’s light and fluffy like you do with other cookie recipes. The reason for this is that with light and fluffy butter, you beat air into the dough. This causes the cookies to puff up when they are baking and to sink when they are cooling.
Then I added the flour, and beat the mixture on low just until the flour was well incorporated. Finally, I added the pecans and gently folded them into the dough with a wooden spoon.
Once the dough was finished, I transferred it into a gallon size ziploc bag. I began gently rolling the dough out with my rolling pin until it completely filled the bag in an even layer. I sealed the bag and placed it in the freezer for two hours. I could have also put the dough in the refrigerator.
Making the Pecan Shortbread:
After the two hours, I removed the dough from the freezer. I cut away the ziploc bag, and placed the dough on a piece of parchment paper. Using a ruler, I marked 1 ½-inch increments on the dough.
Then, using a pizza cutter, I cut the dough into 1 ½-inch squares. I transferred the squares to a parchment lined baking sheet. Next, I pricked each cookie twice with a fork, ensuring that the fork tines went all the way through the cookies. This is referred to as docking. Docking allows the steam to escape during cooking and promotes a more even baking. Before baking the cookies, I put them in the freezer for another 20 minutes. I could have also put them in the refrigerator.
I baked the cookies at a 325° F for around 25 minutes, until they were very lightly browned. After I removed the cookies from the oven, I transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely.
The result was 4 dozen very delicately flavored pecan shortbread cookies. Every bite was full of buttery goodness and crunchy pecans. Yum!
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup (3 ounces) confectioners' sugar
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (4 ounces) toasted pecan pieces (See Note 1)
- Confectioners' sugar for dusting Optional
- Place butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat together on medium speed until the mixture is very smooth, about 1 minute. Do not beat until light and fluffy. Add the flour, and mix on low speed only until the flour disappears into the dough, about 1 minute. Don't work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the toasted pecans with a wooden spoon or sturdy rubber spatula. (See Note 2)
- Using the spoon or spatula, transfer the dough to a gallon-size ziploc bag. Put the bag on a flat surface. Leaving the top open, roll the dough into a ¼-inch thick rectangle that completely fills the bag. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so that it doesn't cause creases. Seal the bag, and place in refrigerator or freezer for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days. (See Note 3)
- Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Put the ziploc bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough onto a parchment lined board or counter; discard the bag. Using a ruler as a guide and a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-½ inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. (See Note 4)
- Bake at 325° F for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from the top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies will be very pale - they shouldn't take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.
- If desired, dust the cookies with confectioners' sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving. Yield: 4 dozen cookies. (See Note 5)
- Note 1: Spread pecan pieces in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely.
- Note 2: The reason that you don't want to overbeat the dough is that the more you beat, the more air is incorporated into the cough. This causes the cookies to puff up when they are baking and to sink when they are cooling.
- Note 3: I tend to put the prepared dough in the freezer, primarily because I tend to have more room in the freezer. You want the butter to become hard, whichever method you use.
- Note 4: Pricking the cookies with a fork is termed docking. Docking allows the steam to escape while the cookies are baking. This prevents the cookies from puffing up during cooking.
- Note 5: Store the pecan shortbread in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Also, the cookies can be frozen for up to 2 months.