Monday, October 1, 2012

Maple-Pecan Shortbread

These Maple-Pecan Shortbread have become one of my all time favorite cookie recipes.  I've been making these every fall/winter for the past few years and they are hands down the most requested cookie recipe I make.  My mother-in-law once invited me to a holiday cookie swap and insisted that I make these cookies.  I'm pretty sure she had ulterior motives when she invited me to the party, but I can't blame her.  Honestly, these cookies are just that good.  The only person that can resist these cookies is my hubby, who refuses to try any dessert that includes nuts.  He's missing out, but that means more cookies for everyone else to enjoy.

These have a lovely, delicate shortbread texture with a subtle but lovely maple flavor and a wonderful texture added by the nuts.  They're kind of reminiscent of Pecan Sandies, but with the addition of maple flavor and SO much better.  You can roll this dough and cut your cookies into any shape imaginable.  Normally I use a round cookie cutter and top each individual cookie with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar and a whole pecan half.  This time I decided to use some adorable miniature leaf and acorn cookie cutters to make mine a little more festive for fall.  I topped some of the cookies with turbinado sugar and others with finely chopped pecans.  If you want to save the time of rolling and cutting dough, you could also shape the dough into a log and slice the cookies.  Next time you're baking for a fall/winter gathering, I highly suggest you give these cookies a try!

Maple-Pecan Shortbread
makes about 2 dozen

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, plus for more topping (if desired)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure maple extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, sift flours and salt.  Whisk in 1/2 cup chopped pecans; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and light, about one minute.  Add the maple syrup, egg yolk, and extract; beat on medium speed until well combined.  On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until just combined.  Dough should be smooth and pliable.  Flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, 1 1/2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out rounds using a two-inch cookie cutter (or desired cutter); place one inch apart on prepared baking sheet.  Brush tops with beaten egg; sprinkle cookies with turbinado sugar and/or chopped pecans.  Chill prepared cookies in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.

Bake cookies, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then store in an air tight container.

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