Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Simple by Indie.Arie
"What more can I say?"  It's simple.  My love.  Of shortbread cookies.  "I love you."  

Remember that post a few weeks ago about my new pal,  Sailor Jack?
And I talked about how I went into the bakery and got my "usuals"?
The shortbread cookies?

I often get asked why, when I'm faced with shelves full of 
decadent pastries, voluptuous brownies, and cheeky cookies, 
that I almost always walk out with the 
seemingly plain Shortbread.

And while these wonderers are taking turns in expressing their 
disappointments in their selections - "too dry," "no flavor," "I've had better" - 
I'm almost always happy with my simple choice.

Because it's basically four ingredients - with any add-ins you choose.

If people were to ask for a recommendation for a recipe for a first-time baker,
I'd say Shortbread!!!!

Flour, sugar, butter, salt.
There's not much that can go wrong here.
No eggs, no baking powder or soda.
And, on top of that, it involves very little time.

My add-ins to this recipe:
~ a little rice flour to my flour mix.
It adds a bit of lightness to the cookie.
~ some almond extract to heighten the flavor of the nuts.
~ pecans - because it's the nutty time of year!

You can leave all these out if you like, just add a little more 
all-purpose flour to make up for the missing rice flour.

Seriously - try these.
Buttery simplicity.
It's a good thing!

Pecan Shortbread Cookies
makes 24 cookies
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (215 g)
1/2 c. rice flour (65 g)
1/4 t. kosher salt
3/4 c. powdered sugar (90 g)
1 c. butter, room temperature
1 t. almond extract
1 c. pecan halves, chopped

Whisk together the flours and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In a mixer bowl, cream together the powdered sugar and the butter until light and fluffy - about 3 minutes.  Add the almond extract and mix well.

Chop the pecans until they are the size of small peas.
Add the flour mixture and the chopped pecans to the butter and sugar mixture.  Mix just until combined.  Spread the mixture out into a small quarter-size sheet tray or simply form a disk and wrap in plastic and chill.

I wanted to make these little squares so I patted my dough out into a small sheet tray lined with parchment so that the parchment hung over the sides.  This overhang acted as handles to lift the dough out after it was chilled.
You can roll the dough out and cut into desired shapes as well.  I used these tools that give a rippled edge.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and bake the cookies for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.  The edges of the cookie should just start to turn golden brown.

Leave plain - or embellish as you choose!  I just melted some chocolate chips and piped them out in a pastry bag with the tip snipped off. Let your whimsy take over!

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