Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread


One of my all-time favourite baking books is Dorie Greenspan’s ‘Baking From My Home To Yours’. There is a great variety of recipes and the wonderfully written prose is easy and enjoyable to read. With each recipe, you also feel as if she’s in the kitchen with you, guiding you every step of the way.

With every recipe I have tried for this blog, from the Twice-Baked Almond Brioche, Peanut Butter Cookies and Dulce de Leche Duos to the pastry cream recipe for my yummy Mango Tart, each has turned out brilliantly and with great success.

My lucky streak ended yesterday when I tried to make her Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies and they turned out terribly. I even made them twice! On the first attempt, I followed her instructions step-by-step and they spread into one huge cookie slab! It tasted nice, but I didn’t want to chip away pieces of it to serve to my family (‘Jagged shortbread slab piece, anyone?’). On the second try, I actually popped the biscuit dough into the freezer for 15 minutes before baking, much like you would for pastry, in an attempt to stop the squares from spreading out into a huge rectangle as it did on the first try. It was much better, but the shortbread still spread out quite a bit and did not look anything like the cute little perfect sand-coloured squares in the photo. I wasn’t going to try it a third time, as I had already used 500 grams (!) of butter and I was kind of over baking the same thing twice in one day really.

Since the shortbread came out a little ugly, I wasn’t too happy with how they photographed either. They weren’t as thick as they were supposed to be and turned out way too dark. But, like all Dorie recipes, they tasted absolutely awesome. They were like any shortbread should be: buttery, crisp, sweet but too sweet.

Although my shortbread didn’t turn out like Ms. Greenspan’s, I haven’t given up on her recipes yet. Hopefully I’ll find some time to bake another Dorie recipe this week. Maybe her World Peace Cookies or Caramel Pots de Creme. I can’t wait!

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread

If you decide to give these a go, hopefully yours don’t turn out crappy like mine :)

Adapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan in ‘Baking From My Home To Yours’.

1¼ cups plain flour

½ cup rice flour (or cornflour)

¼ teaspoon salt

pinch ground cloves

250g unsalted butter,room temperature

¾ cup light brown sugar

½ cup finely ground pecans

raw/demerara sugar, to sprinkle

  1. Sift together the flour, rice flour, salt and cloves.
  2. Beat the butter and sugr using a hand-held mixer or freestanding mixer on medium speed for around 3 minutes or until very smooth. Reduce the speed to low and add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the pecans and give the mixer a couple of turns, just to mix the nuts through.
  3. In between two large pieces of non-stick baking paper, roll the dough out to an approximately 24 x 28cm rectangle that’s 1.5cm thick. Place the dough in the fridge for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.
  4. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Using a ruler and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 4cm squares. Transfer the squares to the prepared baking trays and prick each square twice with the tines of a fork. Sprinkle some raw sugar over each dough square. Place these two trays in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Position the oven racks to divide the oven into thirds.
  5. Bake the biscuits for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. Dorie’s shortbread were beautifully pale. Mine were dark and ugly.
  6. Cool the shortbread on a wire rack.

12 Responses to “Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread”

  1. 1 Y

    Question from the boy, looking over my shoulder .. “Is that toast?”


    Well _I_ think it looks like great shortbread, and brown sugar and pecans are fabulous ingredients to find in shortbread.

  2. 2 Amanda

    oh no! I haven’t had the chance to make this shortbread yet, and I was eyeing the cornmeal version. So far Dorie has let me down yet, but I’ll be prepared when I make this brown sugar one next time. 500 grams of butter… phew, I can feel my arteries clogging :)

  3. Oh my! They look like they will melt in your mouth!

  4. 4 giz

    They do look really amazing – Dorie’s recipes are always so accessible.

  5. What a yummy twist on a shortbread cookie!

  6. I have been thinking of making this recipe ever since I got the book, a year ago or so. Even though you weren’t 100% satisfied with the cookies, they look fantastic!

  7. 7 Steph

    They sound delicious, and look delicious! I actually haven’t had much success from Dories book, but I assume it’s me. I’m not giving up though!

  8. 8 Linda

    Thanks everyone :)

  9. Looks so elegant I love it! Your photo gives such an English feel to the food which fits perfectly with the shortbread cookies.

    Sharona May

  10. Makes me think it’s the butter content… which would suck since I love butta !!
    They do look good, you are too hard on yourself :)

  11. 11 Lisa

    I’ve made these shortbread several times, and I’ve found that they don’t spread so much if you (1) add a few extra Tablespoons of flour, and (2) freeze them SOLID before baking them. I chill them well, slice them, and then freeze them a good several hours before baking. They still taste wonderfully buttery and delicious.

  12. This is one my husband will love. Pecans are the nut of choice, these days.

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