To Toast Pecans:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Bake the
pecans for about 8-10 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Cool
and then coarsely chop.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the
flour with the salt.
In the bowl of your electric
mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth (about 2-3 minutes). Beat
in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture, mixing only until
incorporated. Stir in the chopped pecans.
Divide the dough
in half and then roll each half
between two sheets of parchment or wax paper until it is about 1/4 inch (.5 cm)
thick. (If your dough is soft, cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or
until firm, before you roll it out.) As you roll, periodically check the top and
bottom sheets of parchment and smooth out any wrinkles. Then place dough on a
baking sheet (along with the parchment paper) and chill in the refrigerator until cold and very firm (about
45-60 minutes). (For faster chilling, place in the freezer for about 15-20
remove from refrigerator and peel off the top piece of parchment paper. Using a
2 1/2 - 3 inch (5-7 cm) cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Place on a
parchment lined baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
Put the baking sheet, with the cut out cookies, in the refrigerator while you
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Meanwhile, gather up any scraps of
leftover dough and re-roll. (You may need to refrigerate the dough again before
cutting out the cookies.)
Bake the cookies for approximately
13 - 15 minutes or until the shortbreads are a deep
golden brown color. This
ensures a crunchy and crumbly cookie. (Note: If you only bake the shortbread
until they are light brown the shortbread will be softer in texture.) Remove
cookies from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
For Chocolate Dipped Pecan
Shortbreads: Place 3 ounces (90 grams) of the finely chopped chocolate in a
heatproof bowl and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Once the
chocolate has melted, remove it from the heat. Add the remaining chocolate and
stir with a wooden spoon until it has completely melted and is smooth and
glossy. Taking one cookie at a time, dip one end of each cookie in the melted
chocolate and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all the cookies
have been dipped in the chocolate, place the baking sheets in the refrigerator
for about 10 minutes, or until the chocolate has hardened.
The shortbreads can be stored at
room temperature for about one week or else frozen.
Makes about 40 - 2 1/2 inch (6 cm)