Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies

  • Serves: Makes 32, 1 1/2-inch squares
  • Baking Temp (degrees F): 350
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These cookies have a melt-in-your-mouth quality because of the added cornstarch. And, the brown sugar gives them a wonderful caramel flavor, but can be replaced a combination of white sugar and dark brown sugar, if desired. The ground pecans add a wonderful crunchy texture, making this one of my favorite choices. 
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INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon. salt
pinch ground cloves

2 sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cups packed light brown sugar or 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup finely ground pecans (grind and then measure)
Optional: powdered sugar for dusting

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Sift flour, cornstarch, salt and cloves in a small bowl.
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with beaters, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients at the side of the bowl, until JUST incorporated. DON'T OVERMIX. Add the pecans and give the mixer a couple of turns just to incorporate the nuts into the dough.
3. Transfer the soft sticky dough inside a gallon-size resealable bag and leave open. Roll dough to a 9-x-10 1/2-x 1/4-inch rectangle. Turn and lift bag occasionally to avoid creases. Press the air from the bag and seal it. Refrigerate dough at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

To bake:
1. Position oven racks in the lower and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat mats.
2. Place resealable bag on cutting board and slit open, taking care not to mar the dough. Turn the dough onto board. With a sharp knife, (and ruler as a guide) cut dough into 32, 1 1/2-inch squares with a sharp, thin knife. Transfer squares to baking sheets and prick each cookie two times with the tines of a fork, pushing tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.
3. Bake 18-20 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and front to back midway. The are done when they are pale and just begin to take on a very slight, pale brown color around their edges. Transfer cookies to a wire cake rack to cool.
Optional: dust with powdered sugar while cookies are still hot. Cool to room temperature before serving.

STORAGE
Store in an airtight container, where they will keep for 4 days. They can be frozen for up to 2 months, well wrapped.

The recipe is adapted from Dorie Greenspan

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