Yummy Crumby Pecan Shortbread

20130914_194825It was pizza night here on the porch. Several variations offered including whole wheat crust with grilled vegetables and Daiya “cheese.” My favorite tonight was sun-dried tomato jam, ham and mozzarella cheese.

Once the pies were done, I closed down the vents and cooled the egg down enough to bake these slightly sweet cookies for dessert served with some ice cream.

So, what makes shortbread short? The term short, when applied to biscuits and pastry, means crumbly. The large proportion of butter is what gives this cookie the characteristic tenderness. That’s why the fat added to biscuits and pastries is called shortening.

In Shetland a decorated shortbread was traditionally broken over a bride’s head before she entered her new home, so I guess crumbly was a good idea.

Lots of old Scottish recipes exist from as early as the 12th century. Mary Queen of Scots (who, by the way, became Queen when she was just 6 days old) preferred hers with Caraway back in the 1500’s. There are other ancient versions with citrus and almonds. This one has a bit of Almond and lots of Pecans.

20130914_221745SP’s Pecan Shortbread
¾ lb. unsalted Butter at room temperature
1 cup pure Cane Sugar
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon pure Almond Extract
3½ cups all-purpose Flour
¼ teaspoon Salt
1½ cups crushed Pecans

(For the crushed Pecans, poured pecan halves in the food processor then pulsed a few times.)

Set up the egg for indirect cooking, plate setter with legs up, grate, then Pizza Stone. Stabilized the temperature at 350°F.

Used an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mixed together the butter and sugar until they were just combined, then mixed in the vanilla and almond extracts. Sifted the flour and salt together, then added them to the butter-sugar mixture. Added the crushed pecans and mixed slowly until the dough started to come together. Dumped the dough onto a flour-dusted counter, formed into a disc shape and wrapped it in plastic. Into the chill chest for an hour or so. I think 30 minutes would have been enough if the egg had been ready at that time.

Pulled the dough disc out of the fridge and rolled the dough just under ½ inch thick and cut into pieces about 2 – 2½ inches.

I used parchment paper on the pizza stone and baked these for 15 to 18 minutes until the edges began to brown, then removed to a cooling rack.

No way to know if Mary Queen of Scots would have liked this, but I sure did.

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