December 27, 2010

Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies

I used to work for Starbucks in California. In the pastry case, full of terrible-for-you and not-even-that-good-tasting pastries (I guess I would rather have homemade), there was one treat that stood out. A scone. A maple oat nut scone to be exact. This scone had a wonderful maple flavor, was studded with pecans, and iced with a perfectly sweet glaze. So many delicious flavors converging in one little pastry!

But, I moved to Oregon and, alas, the Starbucks in Oregon do not carry the delectable maple oat nut scones. Sad, sad day.

These maple pecan shortbread cookies have been on my to-bake-soon short list ever since I opened my copy of Martha Stewart's Cookies. I've made many wonderful cookies from that book in the intervening years before finally getting around to these. I'm sorry it took me so long.

These cookies knocked the socks off of everyone I've shared them with. They really are a perfect winter cookie. As I've already established, maple and pecans are a natural and particularly tasty pairing. The shortbread here only compliments and highlights these homey and satisfying flavors.

In fact, these taste just like a cookie version of my favorite and now distant scones. These cookies will more than suffice in their absence. I will definitely curl up with a small stack of these and a cup of Starbucks coffee. I will once again know maple pecan bliss. Thanks, Martha!

Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies
  • 2 3/4 cups flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure maple extract
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 24 pecan halves, for decorating
  • Turbinado sugar (or regular sugar) for sprinkling
  1. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Whisk in chopped pecans.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and light, about 1 minute. Add maple syrup, egg yolk and extract. Beat on medium until well combined. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined. The dough should be smooth and pliable. 
  3. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap. Flatten into a disk, wrap it up and refrigerate until firm, 1 /2 hours to overnight.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  5. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. (I had to let my dough warm up a little before it would roll out.) Cut out rounds using a 2-inch cookie cutter. (The only cookie cutter I had was heart shaped, though the hearts didn't really turn out in the end.) Place on a baking sheet. Brush the tops with beaten egg and place a pecan half in the center of each cookie. Sprinkle cookies with sugar.
  6. Bake cookies, rotating halfway through, until golden around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
Makes about 2 dozen

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