Monday, December 04, 2006

Caramel Pecan Shortbread

foodblog 1267
This is one of my very favorite cookies to make around the holidays - it's the first one to disappear off the tray every time, and always the most requested recipe. It all starts with this Basic Butter Cookie dough, from Gourmet's December, 1995 issue, which I have made faithfully every year since I discovered it. The recipe suggests a number of different creations, and over the years I've come up with a few of my own. I use it for cut outs, jam thumbprints (with finely chopped pecans in the dough), lemon curd sandwiches, toasted coconut sticks dipped in chocolate, and cranberry orange oatmeal rounds. This past weekend, I made a double batch to get a head start on holiday baking. I made one small change based on something I learned in my pastry classes - substituting one teaspoon of vanilla paste for the vanilla extract. It put lovely vanilla flecks throughout the dough and gave it a good flavor - both improvements in my book. (I found mine at Trader Joes.) One thing you should know, it's not terribly sweet, but this is a very rich, buttery short dough - not like a sugar cookie at all.

To make the caramel pecan shortbread, I used about a quarter of one recipe of the dough, and made the topping from this recipe - from 2003. (The 2003 issue also has a link to a different recipe for a butter cookie base, but I'm committed to my old one.)

The recipe says to bake this until the caramel is bubbling - but I find that I need to bake it a little longer - about ten minutes into the bubbling - 20-25 minutes total. The trick is to get the caramel and the cookie in the middle done, without turning the outer edges brittle. I cut these into teensy tiny pieces because they are so rich - and because I have a thing for small cookies - but you could cut these into any size once the pan comes out of the oven. Enjoy!


  1. Those look so indulgent!

  2. Good God those look fantastic!

  3. no wonder you make it every year!

  4. wow beautiful photo these look 'naughty but nice'