For the past week or so I’ve been completely preoccupied with thoughts of cookies. I’ve been reading recipes and making lists and stocking up on butter and sugar and nuts of all kinds. I think there’s about five pounds of butter in my refrigerator right now. It will all be consumed before the new year. My Christmas cookie assortment is ever-evolving, but the one my family looks for every year is the pecan sandy.
Also under consideration for this year’s cookie plate: Biscotti al Pistacchio, Mexican Chocolate Cookies, Nut and Seed Biscotti, Salted Butter Caramels and some very simple thumbprint cookies from one of my mom’s old recipes. Also there will be toffee.
Pecan Sandies, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, Holiday 2005
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, plus about 4 dozen pecan halves to top the cookies with
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups AP flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter
- 1 large egg yolk
Before you begin, pick out about 4 dozen of your best looking, intact pecan halves and set them aside for the tops of your cookies. Combine the other 1 1/2 cups pecans, powdered sugar, and brown sugar in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground. Add the flour and the salt and process until combined. Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter over the dry ingredients in the food processor. Process until the dough has a uniform consistency and looks like damp sand. Add the egg yolk and process just until the dough comes together into a scrappy ball. Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead with your hands for a couple seconds, just until it comes together. Pat the dough into a 1-inch thick slab and wrap well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until very firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookes with a 1 1/2 inch round or square cookie cutter, or just cut into squares with a knife (and a ruler). Place cookies 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Gently press a pecan half into the top of each cookie. Re-roll and cut out the scraps. (You don’t want to re-roll the scraps more then once, so try to be efficient when you’re cutting them out.) Bake for about 20 minutes, until cookies are beginning to brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes about 3 1/2 to 4 dozen cookies.