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Hi Bold Bakers!
From giving them as gifts, to making them as a fun activity with friends and family, I love how baking cookies is a way to bring people together during the holidays. And nothing says “holiday baking” quite like these Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies — they are rich, buttery, and nutty, and a quintessential Christmas shortbread cookie.
As you know, shortbread is a staple for this festive season, but these aren’t just your average shortbread cookies, because they incorporate one of my favorite nuts: pecans. Easy to make in a large batch, and great to make ahead, these are lovely cookies to add to your holiday repertoire.
What is a shortbread cookie?
Shortbread cookies — not to be mistaken with a sugar cookie — are dry-yet-buttery cookies that are usually made of mostly butter, a bit of sugar, and a bit of flour. The reason it’s referred to as “short” bread is because of the nature of the crumb of the cookie.
The texture of my Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookie is on the cracker-like and crumbly side, making it delicate without much chew. One of the best parts about shortbread is that it always starts out the same, by creaming butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then adding in flour. My Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies combine both brown and white sugar, making all the difference in the flavor and aroma.
Then, of course, I add pecans — which take this cookie above and beyond. The added crunch and flavor from the toasted nuts is so lovely, making these truly special enough from any holiday occasion.
Can shortbread cookies be frozen?
When the holidays hit, the key to culinary success is always preparation.
My Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookie can not only be made ahead, but they should be! Because the butter content of the butter pecan shortbread is so high, they can’t be shaped when the dough is fresh — they need to be chilled or frozen in the shape of a log, then sliced into discs to be baked. These shortbread cookies need to be chilled for a minimum of 2 hours to overnight.
If you do choose to make the dough ahead of time, it will also freeze beautifully. To bake from frozen: simply defrost, slice, and bake away!
How to Make Slice and Bake Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies
The best part about my Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies is how easy they are to bake off. Once the dough has been whipped up, I turn it out of a bowl and then use my hands to shape it into a log. I wrap the log in plastic wrap, then twist each end like you would a piece of hard candy.
The result is an even shape that allows you to slice the cookies into really uniform discs. I love this effect, as it makes each cookie comes out perfect. The more uniform the cookie, the more evenly they bake, too. The finished cookies looks so professional and stack up perfectly making a great little stocking stuffer or gift.
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Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies Recipe
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
- Fold in the flour and chopped pecans.
- Bring the dough into a ball and divide in half. Roll each half into an 8 inch log, then wrap it in plastic wrap. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap tightly to create a compact even log. Chill the dough for 2 hours to over night.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350°F (180°C) then line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the logs of dough from the fridge and unwrap them. Using a large sharp knife slice each log into 1/2 inch rounds.
- Arrange the sliced cookies on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.
- Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden and slightly crispy.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow the cookies to cool completely.
- Cover and store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.