Pecan Shortbread Cookies

December signals the start of cookie baking season for me. Every week there's some kind of festivity happening whether it be a cookie exchange or a pot luck party. This is a great time for me to try out new recipes or decorating techniques but at the same time I fall back on tried-and-true recipes for the cookie traditionalists in my life. Here's a recipe that perfectly suits that crowd; it's not too sugary and is a great update to classic shortbread. Although it looks fancy and deceptively difficult to make, the hardest part is actually not eating them all before the party!

Adapted from The Toronto Star
• 3/4 cup pecans, chopped and lightly toasted
• 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter
• 1/2 cup icing sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
• 1/4 cup turbinado sugar or other coarse brown sugar
  1. Beat together butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Gradually mix in the flour by adding it in 3 additions.
  3. Stir in the chopped pecans.
  4. Roll the dough into a 15" log, wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until firm. For my cookies, I gave my log flat sides to create a square cookie. TIP: If your dough mixture is crumbly and difficult to roll, sandwich your dough with plastic wrap and shape into a log by pressing it into shape with your hands.
  5. When the dough is well-chilled and firm enough to slice, brush the outside with the beaten egg yolk and sprinkle with turbinado sugar, ensuring to evenly coat the surface. TIP: The egg yolk may be substituted with a brushing of milk or cream. The goal of this step is to give your cookie golden edges.
  6. Slice into 1/4-3/8" thick slices and place 1" apart on a parchment-lined baking pan.
  7. Bake in an oven preheated to 350°F for 15-17 minutes or until edges are golden brown. The centre of the cookie will still be pale. Makes 30-40 cookies.