Shortbread cookies hail from Normandy, France, aptly called Sables, alluding to their delicate sand like crumbly texture.
Traditional European short breads are a simple combination of butter, sugar, flour and salt. What could be easier, right? Well, yes and no. For this recipe it is well worth Looking for a salted European style butter that will provide the best flavor and crumbly texture for your pecan shortbread cookies. I have been using a domestic Danish Creamery Butter with sea salt for baking applications with excellent results. Listed are several other brands of European style butters that are generally available here in US supermarkets.
In America shortbread recipes evolved over the years, particularly in the deep south where locally grown pecans are plentiful. Pecans added to short breads and cookies lend a rich nutty butter pecan flavor note that everyone loves.
In the 1950’s The Keebler Company registered the name Sandies for their Pecan Sandies cookies that are a spin off of sorts 0ff of traditional shortbread cookies. They are tasty and still popular today.
That said, the essential shortbread ingredient, butter, has been omitted and replaced with palm and soy oils. What can I say other than butter is always the better choice for anything you planning to bake!
Butters made with cultured milk have a 2%higher butter fat content and a discernably richer flavor.
Listed are a few European style butters that are available in grocery stores here in the US.
Plugra salted European style butter (US) 8 oz. $ 2.38
President ( France) 7 oz. $13,95
Kerrygold (Ireland) 7 oz. $ 3.99
Danish Creamery salted (US) 16 oz. $ 6.79
Pecan Shortbread Cookies Makes 36 cookies
- 1 ½ cups pecans, finely chopped by hand
- 36 pecan halves, reserved
- 8 oz. European style salted butter, softened
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup fine granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, cognac, or B & B
- 2 cups all purpose flour
Finely hand chop the cup and a half of pecans and set aside.
Place the softened butter and the sugars in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer set at medium low speed cream the butter and sugars until combined and creamy. Add the vanilla, cognac or B & B and beat until combined.
Then switching to a silicon spatula, begin folding the flour and chopped pecans alternately into the butter mixture until well combined. The texture will eventually come together. Once the mixture bonds together transfer the d dough to a long length of cling film on your work surface. Using both hands form the dough into a log shape that is about 15 inches in length And about 2 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap the cling film around the dough and lightly roll it back and forth to create an evenly shaped log. Twist the ends of the clingfilm tightly and flatten both ends. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and chill for 1 ½ hours or until firm.
Meanwhile line 2 cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 f / 180 c with the baking rack set in the center of the oven.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap the dough and place it on a cutting board. Slice the dough into 1/3 inch slices. Arrange the slices about 1 ½ inches apart on the baking sheets. Press a pecan half in the center of each cookie, pressing gently to secure them to the dough.
Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The cookies should be just set and lightly browned.
Promptly transfer the baking sheets to a cooling rack to rest for several minutes. You can then slip the mats with the cookies on it onto the cooling rack. and Set the baking sheet aside to cool before using for another batch of cookies.
Once the cookies are completely cool, store them in a nookie tin with a firm fitting lid for storage.
For norther recipe you might like to try Saigon Cinnamon Sables ( click here)