Wednesday, January 4, 2012

THE Best Pecan Sandies

I Love Very Vera Cakes! Gift of her cakes for the holidays is the best gift I could ever ask for. So as I pondered about cake situation for my wedding, I did not have to think too hard to come up with this solution:
no tiered cake, lots of very vera cakes.
And it was beautiful!

just sneaking in a picture of my beautiful niece... :)

So I went a little nuts about making my wedding favors. I thought, to save time, I would order this thing called "pecan sandies" from very vera along with the cakes. And my curiosity took over. What ARE pecan sandies...?? so I searched for recipes and what not. The recipe I landed on was posted by SmittenKitchen. Out of dozens of recipes, her's was the winner because of the shape! so cute! like little square buttons. Yes, it took a bit of time to poke all those wholes in the right places, but SO worth it! AND I'm a ceramic artist, you see, I like those tedious and crafty things.

These are so buttery and pecan-y, flaky, crumbly, and has that hint of sweetness with the salty bite that just make you keep reaching for them. Some recipes use a lot more pecans in proportion, but I don't think they need it. Also, it is NOT too sweet. I don't usually say that, as someone who came from Japan, American sweets are almost always a bit too sweet. But not this one. I actually added more sugar to the batches I made for the wedding because my father thought it was good, but as a treat with tea or coffee, it needed more sweetness (and I agree :)). Please try these! it will be so cute wrapped in little glassine bags as gifts or just in a big clear cookie jar on your kitchen counter. They will disappear so fast, it's a good thing the recipe makes a good bit! Believe me, a several people asked me for the recipe.

Pecan Sandies
Adapted from Last Course

Now, I know that the Internet isn’t exactly facing a shortage of recipes for pecan sandies, but I happen to think that these are a step above, due to the tiniest of steps: Fleming has you toast them until they’re very dark, which, combined with sugar, brings out an almost maple-y flavor. Once ground up, they give the cookies a whole other dimension — the pecan flavor is louder and the cookie tastes more grownup than what we might be used to. In the best way.

Makes just shy of 12 dozen, one-inch square cookies

1 cup pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts out in one layer on a baking sheet and bake them, stirring occasionally, until they are well browned, 10 to 13 minutes (they will smell toasted and nutty). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Do not skip this step!

In a food processor, grind the nuts with 1/4 cup of the flour. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well. Sift together the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour, the salt, and the baking powder, and add it to the dough, mixing until just combined. Stir in the nut mixture. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper to 3/16 inch thick (a rectangle approximately 10 x 14 inches). Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1-inch squares, then cut the squares on a diagonal into triangles (I skipped the last cut into triangles). Sprinkle the cookies with the turbinado sugar. Place them 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets (do not reroll the scraps). Prick the cookies with a fork (I used a tooth pick) and bake until pale golden all over, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. (mine usually takes longer than 12 min. just let them bake til the edges and the bottoms are toasty)

** if your house is not colder than 45degrees, your rolled dough WILL start to get really soft, like room temp butter. So put your rolled dough in the freezer to get them to harden before cutting them into strips, then into squares.