July 1, 2015

Toasted Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Wisconsin State Fair

Toasted Pecan Shortbread Cookies recipe 1

In just a few weeks, some of the biggest fairs in the country get underway. Certainly the avid hobby bakers and cooks of the country who annually compete at the fairs have their thinking caps on. What will they enter? What will earn a ribbon?

One of the cookie highlights from 2014 was this creation from Joan Giesfeldt at the Wisconsin State Fair: Toasted Pecan Shortbread with Brown Butter Cream Filling.

They are an impressive cookie, and Joan shared a few tips about preparing them:

Toasted Pecan Shortbread Cookies (WI 14 1st) 3Toast the pecans ahead of time to bring out their nutty aroma and flavor. (Note: Browning the butter for the filling is going to boost that nuttiness also.)

Toasted Pecan Shortbread Cookies (WI 14 1st) 4She added that you can sift the flour, an optional step to give a lighter texture to the cookie.  Toasted Pecan Shortbread Cookies (WI 14 1st) 6For the vanilla ingredient, Joan says she prefers a Madagascar, like this one. She also used an ultra-fine baker’s sugar for sprinkling on the top half of the cookie.

With the richness of the dough, her other tip is to handle the dough as little as possible once it comes out of the freezer. The cookies will keep their form a bit better.

Toasted Pecan Shortbread Cookies (WI 14 1st) 2

When we test ran these cookies, they were a favorite among our tasters.

Cookie lovers and baking fans:  take the time to bake a batch of these sooner rather than later. They are worth the effort!




Toasted Pecan Shortbread with Brown Butter Cream Filling

Shortbread Cookie:

2 3/4 cups Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour

3/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans, divided*

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided**

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or vanilla bean paste


Butter Cream Filling:

1/2 cup brown butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


In bowl of a food processor, pulse together Gold Medal flour, 1/2 cup toasted pecans, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Add butter; pulse until mixture is crumbly. Whisk together cream, egg yolks, and vanilla. With food processor running, slowly pour mixture through spout. Stop processor and pulse until mixture forms a ball. Remove dough. Add in remaining pecans and stir by hand. Place dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. Freeze for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay parchment onto cookie sheets.

Butter Cream Filling: Part One. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Cook, stirring constantly until butter foams, turns golden in color, and has a nutty aroma. Immediately remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Cool to room temperature.

Remove dough from freezer. Using a 2 1/4-inch ridged cutter, cut as many cookies as possible, re-rolling scraps no more than twice. Using a 1-inch ridged cutter, remove centers from half of the cookies. Sprinkle open center cookies with remaining sugar. Bake cookies for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on baking sheets.

Butter cream Filling: Part two. Using a mixer at medium high speed, beat brown butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Use cream immediately. Spread about 1 teaspoon butter cream filling onto whole cookies and top with cookies with the center removed. Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

*Toast pecans ahead of time by baking in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees F, 5-10 minutes.

Makes 24 sandwich cookies.

-Recipe from Joan Giesfeldt, 2014 Wisconsin State Fair, Gold Medal Flour Cookie Contest