Friday, March 1, 2013

Orange Pecan Shortbread Cookies

I don’t make shortbread that often, which is a shame because it is so good! When we visited Scotland last December, we ate our fair share of shortbread as it is the classic Scottish cookie (biscuit). It’s great with tea, coffee, hot cocoa, which ever drink you prefer. I came across this recipe for orange pecan shortbread, and I thought that would be a great combination. And to me, this seems very American.

The beauty of shortbread is its simplicity: butter, sugar, and flour. This recipe has you add some orange zest and some ground toasted pecans. There are few aromas more wonderful than that of toasted nuts. I toast mine in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until the nuts are fragrant. (You can also toast them in the oven, but I honestly don’t think I have ever done that!) If you don’t like orange (as one of my coworkers doesn’t) you could substitute lemon zest or even just omit it and make toasted pecan shortbread.

This recipe is a little different in that you bake the cookies twice, reminiscent of biscotti. I didn’t find that this worked so well for me. The shortbread was just too soft to cup. I ended up scoring the cookies after 30 minutes and then putting the whole thing back in the oven. I had to bake these a lot longer than the original recipe, so you just have to use your best judgment and taste preference to know when they are done. They are a little bit crumbly, but I like to think that they are “rustic.”

Orange Pecan Shortbread Cookies
1 cup cold butter, cut into ½" pieces
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2-1/4 cups flour
½ cup pecans, toasted then ground
Zest of one orange
1 tablespoon honey, warmed
Coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Spray an 11" tart pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and salt. Mix on low until the butter combines with the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture will not be perfectly smooth, that’s ok.

Add the flour, ground pecans, and orange zest. Mix on low speed until the flour is incorporated, about 3 minutes; don't over mix.

Press dough evenly into the prepared tart pan. Brush the dough with honey and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar.

Bake about 30 minutes, until golden on the edges and pale to golden on top. Score the cookies in the pan after 30 minutes and then bake for the additional 15 minutes. Separate the cookies and place them on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes to crisp.Cool completely on a wire rack.

Recipe from The Cafe Sucre Farine

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