IMBB? 10: Cookie Swap


Thanks to The Domestic Goddess for hosting a new-fangled, old-fashioned cookie swap!

Short of time, short of money, and somewhat short-tempered as we approach the end of the semester, I thought no cookie more appropriate for my IMBB? entry than shortbread!

Pecan shortbread, in fact.

Someone on my Christmas list loves Pecan Sandies, and I am hoping to devise the überSandy to include in her Christmas basket. I have tweaked Laurie Colwis classic shortbread,

replacing rice flour with ground pecans and adding some finely chopped pecans for crunch and flavor. The shaping & baking strategy is from Cook’s Illustrated. This entry represents the first attempt; if I refine the recipe, I will post a follow-up here.

1 stick (1/4 lb) unsalted butter, cool and firm (not softened)
1/4 c. confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. white flour
1/4 c. finely ground pecans
1/8 tsp. baking power
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 c. finely chopped pecans

8-inch cake tin, ungreased
cookie sheet, ungreased
round biscuit or cookie cutter

Cream butter with confectiones sugar. Add vanilla.

Mix flour, ground pecans, baking powder, and salt. Mix gently with butter & sugar. When lightly incorporated, add chopped pecans and mix justtil blended. Working too much can develop the gluten, making the shortbread tough, not crumbly.

Pat dough into an 8-inch cake tin. With biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter, remove center and set aside. Place cookie sheet face-down over cake tin; hold firm and flip! This gives you a nice flat face on the shortbread. Place center circle on cookie sheet, too.

With the dull back of a knife, score the large circle into wedges, then dock surface with a fork or (for more pleasing looks) a bamboo skewer. You should now have one large circle, its center removed, its main body scored (but not cut or broken!) into many fan-shaped wedges, dotted with little indentations. A dozen or so wedges is a nice number. Many more, and they are too narrow, and will crumble into nothingness when is time to slice them apart. Fewer, and the massive slabs of cookie are rather intimidating.

You will also have one little circle. Go ahead and dock that, too. Make it pretty, because as a reward for making shortbread for your loved ones, you get to gobble up that circle while it’s still hot. You lucky thing, you.

Bake in a 375F preheated oven for 20 minutes or until edges are lovely golden brown.

Cool a bit, but while still warm to the touch, cut at scorings with a sharp knife. Cool completely before packing in airtight tin or jar and (this is the hardest part of the recipe) placing somewhere cool to age at least five days.

Admittedly, a smart cookie would have made these cookies early in the week, so I could report on the flavor and texture today. As it is, the cookies are baking right now, and I can only tell you that the fragrance is maddening, carrying the tantalizing scents of butter and nuts.