Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies (and my 100th!)

100posts.jpg

Okay, first things first… you are reading my 100th post! I started blogging back in February of 2007 with the idea to share some recipes with friends and family that might be checking out my new hobby. Almost a year later I feel that both my blog and my cooking and baking prowess have grown significantly. I have a greater understanding of fundamental cooking and baking concepts, I have gotten much better at photographing my creations, I joined the Daring Bakers and have stretched my baking muscle, I have made connections and friends through the online food blogging community. I am having a great time and hope that my blog continues to grow and entertains and inspires you!

Now, moving on… what is this TWD business, you ask? Well, TWD = Tuesdays with Dorie, which was created by Laurie over at Quirky Cupcake. She received the Dorie Greenspan cookbook “Baking: From My Home To Yours” for Christmas and challenged herself to make one recipe per week (on Tuesdays) until she gets through the book. Having received the same book for Christmas and being equally excited to dive right in, I asked if I could be her partner in crime each Tuesday, and lucky for me, she said yes! We plan on taking turns choosing which recipe to tackle each week. Laurie started off by selecting Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies.

img_7749-2.jpg

I had somewhat of an advantage here since Laurie made these a day before I did and she said that her cookies spread an awful lot. She recommended popping them back into the refrigerator to chill after cutting them and before baking them. I did just that, for about 15-20 minutes and then baked them off as the recipe reads. Mine also spread, but not to the extent that Laurie said hers did, so we think that the additional chill may be the key. Perhaps even a stint in the freezer before going into the oven. The flavor, however, is absolutely fabulous. The brown sugar gives them a caramel cookie taste. And let’s be honest – spread or no spread, you really can’t go wrong with shortbread! To read Laurie’s take on the recipe, go here.

Quick note for any of you not yet aware of my allergy – I am allergic to all nuts, so that is why they are omitted from any recipe that calls for them!

Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies

(Source: Dorie Greenspan “Baking: From My Home to Yours” p.127)

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground cloves
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely ground pecans (I omitted these)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Directions:
1. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt and cloves.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Add the pecans and give the mixer a couple of turns, just to get the nuts into the dough.

3. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9×10-1/2-inch rectangle that’s 1/4-inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets wiht parchment or silicone mats.

5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-1/2 inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale – they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.