After all the excesses and indulgences of the holidays, I usually start the new year with a pressing need to rein in my eating. Too much rich food and booze starts to take a toll, after all. But here’s the thing: I can’t just quit cold turkey, going from aaaaalll the cocktails and sweets to none at all. (OK, technically I could. I just don’t want to.) So I go for a gentler come-down strategy that centers on my Nightcap Cookies, aka five-spice pecan shortbread.These are My. Kind. Of. Cookies. They’re buttery, a little salty, incredibly nutty, and crumbly-crisp—and a good way to bridge the gap between holiday hedonism and everyday reality. They’re way less sweet than most holiday desserts but just sweet enough to feel like a treat. And they’re made with whole-wheat pastry flour, not so much for the whole-grain goodness (though that’s a great benefit) but for the toasty flavor it adds. See, I have a theory that with certain baked goods, all-purpose flour’s blandness dilutes the flavors you want to play up—especially nutty or chocolaty ones. But whole-wheat flour, with its inherent nuttiness, amplifies those delicious notes. And because of whole-wheat pastry flour’s superfine texture, it works beautifully in pretty much any dessert.I like using cultured butter for these shortbread cookies instead of traditional butter because it adds a little bit of tang and deeper flavor overall. And I really enjoy kosher salt here for the little pockets of salinity it creates. A hint of five-spice powder, with its light anise fragrance, adds just enough subtle oomph to keep you interested bite after bite. And for heaven’s sake, I implore you to use toasted pecans so that they’re crisp, with intensified nuttiness. The cookies will be infinitely more delicious with well-toasted pecans instead of raw ones. By well-toasted, I mean roasting in the oven at moderate heat (around 300°F) for 18 to 23 minutes until the nuts are roasted throughout, not just on the outside like they are when you toast them in a skillet. (And when you’re toasting nuts, go ahead and toast a lot of them and store them in the freezer so you’re a step ahead later when you want a great topper for your oatmeal or salad.)These shortbread cookies are great to keep on hand, holding up well in an airtight container for a week or two. They’re the cornerstone of my new, more reasonable nighttime routine: one or two cookies after dinner with a prudent pour of bourbon. Because they’re really good with bourbon, poured neat. Promise.