Recipe by Sarah Phillips © 2008 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variations: Cocoa Pecan Sandies, Lemon or Orange Pecan Sandies, Mixed Nut Pecan Sandies, Spice Pecan Sandies
Pecan Sandies, also known as Sables, are rich, melt-in-your-mouth tender and sweeter popular French cookies, with a crisp and sandy texture. The dough is shaped into logs and then sprinkled with sugar before it is sliced and baked. These are excellent keepers and make perfect holiday gifts. I have adapted this sophisticated recipe from Dorie Greenspan and added my own variations at the bottom of the recipe!
COOKIE RECIPE HELP
Do NOT beat the butter and sugar until fluffy and aerated; it should be beaten until smooth. It is important not to beat too much air into the mixture otherwise the cookies will puff in the oven and then, sink as they cool and/or spread.
2 sticks (1 cup / 8 ounces) unsalted butter; can be cold from the refrigerator
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted; measure and then, sift
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks; can be cold from the refrigerator
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1 large egg yolk, for brushing the logs
Decorating (coarse) sugar or very finely chopped pecans or a mixture of pecans and sugar.
STEP I: MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH
1. Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand-held mixer fitted with beater attachments. Cut the butter into large 2-tablespoon size pieces and beat at medium speed until smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in two egg yolks until the mixture is homogenous and smooth.
3. Turn off the mixer. Add the flour into the mixer bowl, and with a large rubber spatula, FOLD the flour into the butter / sugar /egg yolk mixture. Work the dough as little as possible until you get a soft, moist, clumpy (rather than smooth) dough.
SARAH SAYS: Do NOT overmix the flour with the other ingredients; mix it only until it disappears into the dough, otherwise the cookies will not have their characteristic sandy texture. After mixing, pinch a small clump of dough between your thumb and fingertips; it will feel a little like Play-Doh.
4. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface. Gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long. If the dough is sticky, do NOT add flour to the work surface, merely place the dough in plastic wrap, and use it to help form the dough shapes.
5. Refrigerate the logs for at least 3 hours, preferably longer.
The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months, well-wrapped. Thaw in the refrigerator.
STEP II: BAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone nonstick mats.
2. Remove one log of dough from the refrigerator. Place it unwrapped on a piece of parchment or wax paper.
OPTIONAL: Whisk the remaining egg yolk until smooth. Lightly and evenly brush some of the yolk all over the sides of the dough. Then, sprinkle or roll the entire surface of the log with decorating sugar before slicing.
3. Slice the log into 1/2 to 1/3-inch-thick cookies. Place the cookie dough rounds on the prepared baking sheets, an inch apart. Wrap and refrigerate the unused dough.
SARAH SAYS: So the roll won't flatten too much one one side, rotate it after each cut. I also find that if I freeze the cookie dough roll, it is less likely to flatten. I also use an electric knife to slice my cookie dough with!
4. Bake one sheet at a time for 17 to 20 minutes or until light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. They will feel tender when you touch the top gently. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them rest a minute or two before carefully removing them to a wire cake rack to cool.
5. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Store at room temperature for about 5 days or more, in an airtight container. Wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months.
Cocoa Pecan Sandies: Reduce the amount of flour to 1 1/2 cups, and add 1/2 cup cocoa powder. Optionally, add in 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder.
Lemon or Orange Pecan Sandies: Add in 2 teaspoons lemon peel (from 1 large lemon) or 1 tablespoon orange peel (from 1 large orange) when beating the butter and sugars together.
Mixed Nut Pecan Sandies: Reduce the amount of flour to 1 1/2 cups, and add 1/2 cup very finely ground pecans, ground almonds, walnuts, pistachios or hazelnuts, to the mixture after you have added the sugars. Roll logs in sprinkle them with very finely chopped pecans or similar nuts used in the recipe or a mixture of nuts and sugar before baking.
Spice Pecan Sandies: Blend 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg into the flour.