Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Maple syrup. Toasted pecans. Pure vanilla and softened butter. These are our transitional ingredients as we head into fall baking season.

Still to come are the bolder flavours, like dark chocolate and peppermint, candied orange peel and rum. For now, however, these cookies are the perfect warm up to the 12 days of holiday baking projects.

Butter Pecan Shortbread cookies will melt in your mouth and keep for at least a week. They are the ideal accompaniment to a cup of tea on a chilly November afternoon.

Butter Pecan Shortbread

Here’s a cookie recipe that has been in my back pocket for years now. It’s a variation on a family favourite, as shortbread in its many forms has always been a part of our Christmas tradition.

I enlist the kids to help and many hands make light work as we roll and cut the cookies. Clara’s favourite job is to brush them with maple syrup and place half a pecan on tip.

If you like a more decadent cookie, you may want to sandwich a little maple butter in between two shortbread. There’s no such thing as too much maple, and the sweet spread contrasts perfectly with the crisp cookie.

Here in Canada we use the real deal, but you could also go with a more traditional buttercream and add a few drops of maple flavouring.

Butter Pecan Shortbread cookies are the first of many holiday cookies that we will bake together in the weeks to come. We’ll also tackle the After-School Gingerbread Project for a bit of fun with sugar.

Plain shortbread, maple sandwiched or a pressed pecan on top – you’re going to love these delicate cookies any way you bake them.

Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies

3.5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bakery
Cuisine: British
Keyword: Vegetarian
Essential Ingredient: Pecans
Servings: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup ground pecans
  • 1/3 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, stir together the ground pecans, cornmeal, flour, cinnamon, salt and cornstarch.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a sturdy bowl and wooden spoon, cream together the butter and powdered sugar. Beat well, for about two minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla and beat again.
  • Tip in the bowl of dry ingredients into the creamed butter. Mix on low until ingredients are just combined. It's okay if it's a little crumbly.
  • Empty the bowl of cookie dough onto a large rectangle of parchment paper. Use your hands to bring the dough together into a ball. Cover the dough with a second sheet of parchment paper and press to flatten slightly
  • Use a rolling pin and roll the cookie dough to an even ¼ inch thickness. Approximately a 9×14 oval. Slide the parchment–pressed dough onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Dip a 2-inch round cookie cutter into flour and cut out circles in the rolled dough. Place on the prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart. When all the cookies have been cut out, chill for another 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325F. Dab the tops of the cookies with maple syrup using a pastry brush. Lightly press a pecan half into the center of the cookies. (I leave half the cookies plain)
  • Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and cool the cookies on pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Shortbread dipped in dark chocolate has long been a holiday favourite of mine. These bars are my adaptation of the beloved shortbread and chocolate pairing—except there is no rolling and cutting, no tempering of the chocolate and positively no dipping.

Get the recipe > Cinnamon Shortbread Bars with Chocolate Ganache

What is on your holiday baking list?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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Comments

  1. These cookies sound delicious…except that I find cornmeal – even finely ground – to be a bit hard. Could you suggest an alternative to the cornmeal?
    Many thanks…I enjoy and look forward to all your posts.

  2. Christmas cakes are done and, ahem, resting with a nip of brandy. On the list: a chocolate buche, mincemeat tarts and trifle (a nod to my British heritage), tourtiere and shortbread (a nod to my Scots/Ottawa Valley roots), Nanaimo bars, and gingerbread. Maybe this will be the year we finally tackle a gingerbread architectural project : )

  3. 5 stars
    lovely, my shortbread recipes are too plain by comparison, thank you!

  4. Jana McBride says

    2 stars
    This was such a crumbly dough that even after chilling for quite a while I could not cut how cookies without them crumbling to pieces. Ended up hand kneading more butter into the dough & pressing into mini-tart pans. They tasted good but so hard to deal with dough, not worth the frustration.

    • I’m sorry to hear that, Jana. Was the dough too cold? What kind of flour did you use? The dough is slightly sticky for me…which is why we roll it out between parchment.

  5. Is it possible to make these ahead and freeze? Perhaps without the maple brushed on top?

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