Friday, May 04, 2012

46. Eat to live. Bake to love. (Pecan Shortbread)

Shhhhh!  Lean in really close and be prepared to learn a secret from the Baker at Law kitchen.

Whispering--On average, I usually only take two bites of the desserts I prepare.  One bite to taste the flavor and test the texture of the edges and a second bite to test the texture of the center.

That’s it.  Then I take pictures of the desserts, package them up, take a few more pictures, and then distribute the desserts to happy partakers.    Out of the cookie, for example, that I had two bites, I put the leftovers in a Ziploc bag and leave it on the counter.  Usually, in about a week or so, the tester gets thrown away.

I really do not eat much of what I bake.  I had a friend try to explain this concept to her niece and she seemed completely perplexed by it.  I am sure in the mind of a kid, if food tastes good you eat it.  But, that is not how my mind works, generally.  I eat to live, and although I do enjoy food, I bake to love.

I enjoy baking immensely, but let’s face it, if I ate everything I baked I would be unhealthy, unfit, and two TBS of butter away from a heart attack.  That is not a life I want to lead.  I bake purely because I like to do it.  I love to share it with people who enjoy it.  And I try and spread the wealthy around—no giving too many sticks of butter to one person.

With all that being said, these cookies are one of the few things I baked that I literally had to get out of the house as I ate three cookies the night I made them.  They ARE that good.  These cookies are simple in theory: pecans, butter, sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla.  Yet, sometimes a magical mix of minimal ingredients allows each to shine and yields perfect results.

These cookies are subtly sweet, rich, and buttery.  Toasting the pecans is a must!  With so few ingredients, each one has to be used to its highest potential.  I made these cookies in two ways.  I divided the batter in half.  With one-half, I formed a log and refrigerated it for 24 hours.  I then sliced the cookies from the log and baked.  The other half of the batter I used immediately, using a 1 TBS capacity cookie scope.  Both cookies came out just as well.  I baked the log-sliced cookies a little longer than the scope cookies.

So bake these and share the love!

Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Dessert Magazine


3 sticks Butter, room temperature
1 cup White Sugar
1 large Egg, room temperature
1 TBS (yes TBS) Vanilla Extract
1 TBS Water, room temperature
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
2 1/2 cup Pecans, chopped and toasted


1. Preheat oven to 325F.

2. Cream together butter and sugar.

3. Add egg, vanilla, and water, one at a time.

4. Mix baking soda, flour, and salt in a separate bowl before mixing into butter mixture.

5. Add pecans and mix in completely.

6. Use 1 TBS cookie scope to portion evenly sized cookies.  Slightly flatten.  Cookies will spread very little.

7. Or form dough into a cookie log.  Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge.  Once cookies are cold all the way through, slice them to your desired thickness.

8. Bake cookies 15-17 minutes if using the cookie scope method, or 17-20 minutes if using the sliced log method.  Cookies are done with the edges are just beginning to brown.

9. Cool completely and enjoy!

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