Pecan Shortbread Cookies

pecan shortbread - 1

My daughter loves shortbread. My daughter currently lives in Ithaca, NY (a lovely place; you should visit), toiling away as a grad student. Sunday is her birthday. As the dutiful mom/chef that I am, I had to send her some cookies for her birthday. Shortbread coming up!

You can find the recipe on Epicurious.com. It’s originally from Bon Appetit Magazine.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/pecan-shortbread-cookies-106027

Only ingredient adjustment was to reduce the baking soda slightly for my 5400 ft. altitude. There’s only 1/8 teaspoon in the original, so it probably doesn’t matter much.

I did find I had to bake them longer than the recipe said to get them lightly browned and set. Original says 20 minutes. I’d say 25.

They are delicious! Buttery and light. If you live in a humid climate, eat them quickly because they will get flabby. Still taste great but lose that crisp snap.

They did look a little worse for wear after shipping however. She still ate them. 😉

broken cookies - 1

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Pecan Squares and Maida Heatter

When I was growing up, my mom fell in love with Maida Heatter. And, for good reason. This woman is one of the greatest pastry chefs anywhere, ever. Her recipes are infallible because they are incredibly detailed. Many of them are quite complicated (see my post on her Walnut Tart from Saint-Paul-de-Vence for a super-involved dessert!) but if you know what you are doing, you can pull them off and impress your friends, big time.

This cookie is the best – really the best! – pecan pie-like cookie there is.  My mom made them and people would swoon. They still swoon. I made them to send to my daughter in college. Won some points there with my daughter and her friends. My book club enjoyed some of them too. No one can resist them. It’s not as gooey-sticky sweet as pecan pie. Loaded with pecans – over a pound! It has a lovely flavor of honey that makes them unique.

The whole sheet of pecans squares. Oh, doesn’t that look delicious

Now, I would post the recipe here, but it’s nearly 3 pages long. This is not a recipe for the casual baker. My advice, if you are a serious pastry baker, go get yourself Maida Heatter’s New Book of Great Desserts (Knopf, 1982). You can find it used on-line. Get it. You won’t be sorry.

Update: I found the recipe on line here. My only update to the original recipe would be to reduce the sugar in the cookie crust to ⅓ cup from ½ cup. The bars are plenty sweet so the crust doesn’t have to be.

Lemon Love Notes

This recipe was one of my favorite cookies from my mom’s catering business. I have made many lemon bar recipes, but they don’t compare. The recipe was lost for quite a while, on two separate occasions. After my mom passed away, my sister and I divided up her cookbooks. I got most of them but not the book with this recipe. I didn’t even know what book contained it. I was visiting my sister in Connecticut and found the boxes of cookbooks in her basement. I wasn’t actually looking for this recipe, just looking through the books she had. And there it was! My sister generously gave me the book, Farm Journal’s Best Ever Recipes since the book has long been out of print. As you can see from the photo, the book has seen better days.

Now I knew what book had the recipe, but that didn’t mean I could keep track of the book. When you have over 800 cookbooks, sometimes they get misplaced. This week, I was going through the few boxes left from our kitchen remodel last year and in a book full of novels, I found it again. I hope you all enjoy it. Pamela certainly did; I almost didn’t get that photo before she ate half of them.
Crust:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
Filling:
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Garnish:
confectioners sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix until crumbly. Press into an ungreased 8-inch square pan. A little confectioners on the fingers is useful to prevent the crust from sticking as you do this. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack.
Combine sugar, 2 tablespoons and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix well. Pour evenly over baked, cooled crust.
Bake for 25 minutes. The top will puff up during baking but falls in cooling. Cool in pan on rack and cut into 2-inch squares. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
Note: for altitude, use a pinch less baking powder.