Cookies Day 6: Pecan Sables

Nothing like a raging hangover to completely sap your energy. This post almost didn’t happen. After making a showing in public and going to Jay’s Christmas concert (Washington Men’s Camerata … there’s one more Christmas concert Sunday December 13 in Maryland, and you should go), eating an entire 2 Amys pizza, and zoning out in front of the TV, I wasn’t sure whether I would have it in me to bake more cookies.  Once again, I based my recipe decision on the number of ingredients we already had.

This recipe is pretty simple. Two important things: (1) don’t overbeat the dough after adding the flour/toasted pecan mixture and (2) don’t roll the dough out too thin. If I were to bake these cookies again, I think I would roll them out a little thicker. Another thing: because the cookies are so simple, the ingredients really matter. I just used regular salt, but next time I think I will use some sea salt to give it more of a bite.

I really love these cookies because they only have a hint of sweetness, and I honestly wish the salt taste was more perceptible. This recipe has another bonus of not making a ton of cookies, a definite plus when you’re starting to have storage issues or you don’t want a lot of extra goodies hanging around.

Pecan Sables
(original recipe Gourmet November 2002)

Ingredients
3/4 cup pecans (3 oz), toasted and cooled, plus about 32 pecan halves (3 oz)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, separated

Special equipment: a 2-inch round cookie cutter

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325°F.

Pulse toasted pecans with 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.

Beat together butter, remaining 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and beat well. Add flour and ground-pecan mixture and mix at low speed until just combined, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Dough will be crumbly but will hold together when squeezed.)

Halve dough and roll out 1 half between 2 sheets of wax paper until 1/4 inch thick (about a 9-inch round). Cut out as many rounds as possible with cookie cutter and arrange about 2 inches apart on buttered large baking sheets, reserving scraps. Roll out and cut remaining dough in same manner. Gather scraps, then reroll and cut in same manner.

Beat egg white until frothy, then brush tops of rounds lightly with egg white. Put a pecan half on top of each round, then brush pecan lightly with egg white.

Bake cookies in middle of oven until tops are pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 2 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

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