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Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Karen DeMasco beats the dough for these buttery cookies with an entire vanilla bean, so the oils in the pod add deep vanilla flavor. By rolling the dough in demerara sugar before slicing and baking the cookies, she makes them extra-crispy. (Recipe adapted from The Craft of Baking.)


slideshow  More Cookie Recipes


  • Total Time:
  • Servings: Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies

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  • 3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons demerara or turbinado sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the chopped pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 6 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, vanilla extract and salt at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour in 3 batches, beating at low speed until just incorporated. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the pecans.
  3. Transfer the dough to a work surface and roll into a 1 1/2-inch-thick log. Wrap the log in plastic or parchment paper and refrigerate for about 1 hour, until chilled.
  4. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the demerara sugar on a platter. Brush the log with the egg yolk and roll in the sugar. Slice the log into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake the shortbread cookies for about 20 minutes, until the edges are golden; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let stand until cooled completely, about 30 minutes, before serving.

Make Ahead

The cookie dough can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Contributed By Photo A© Ellen Silverman; The Craft of Baking Pu Published October 2009

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