These are the best pecan shortbread cookies ever. Or at least that’s what I thought when I first made them. They reminded me (and still do) of Keebler’s Pecan Sandies, which my mom used to buy and keep in a special drawer for herself. I think she thought the kids wouldn’t like them, but (having found the secret drawer) I knew that I did. So I guess I have good memories of Sandies and always think of them as “adult cookies”.
Pecan Sandies or Pecan Sables
The original version of this recipe was called Pecan Sables. I had to research to see what “sable” meant in cookie terms, and apparently it’s just a French word for sand.
Anyhow, I’ve been making these cookies for over 10 years now and they are as good as ever. Any type of butter works, but European style butter such as Plugra makes the cookies even better. If using European style butter, the dough may be a tad bit dryer than with regular butter.
The Best Pecan Sandies Ever
- 3/4 cup pecans, toasted and cooled (84 grams)
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar (95 grams)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (160 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (120 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg, separated
- 32 pecan halves 3 oz
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pulse toasted pecans with 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar in a food processor until finely ground.
- Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
- Beat together butter, remaining 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk (reserve the white) and beat well. Add flour and ground-pecan mixture and mix at low speed until just combined, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Dough will be crumbly but will hold together when squeezed.)
- Halve dough and roll out 1 half between 2 sheets of wax paper until 1/4 inch thick (about a 9-inch round). Cut out as many rounds as possible with a cookie cutter and arrange about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Roll out scraps and cut remaining dough in same manner.
- Beat egg white until frothy, then brush tops of rounds lightly with egg white. Put a pecan half on top of each round, then brush pecan lightly with egg white.
- Bake cookies in middle of oven until tops are pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 2 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.