I was fortunate enough growing up to get to spend a lot of time with my Grandma and Grandpa. Grams was a very typical midwestern grandmother, and I loved her stories about the time she spent with her grandparents in Chicago when she was a child. Gramps was from Boston, but moved to California to live with his uncle and spent his youth as an actual cowboy on a ranch.
Both were self-sufficient, hard-working, homesteader types, who lived thru The Great Depression and taught me woodworking and carpentry skills, how to bake and cook, to sew and crochet, garden, preserve food, how to repair furniture and darn socks, and everything else, from changing a tire, to fixing a leaky faucet.
I was born and raised in Southern California, but I’m often asked if I’m from the East Coast or Midwest, on account of my “accent.” And I’ve come to realize that it’s not so much an accent, as a combination of grandpa’s East Coast/cowboy bluntness, and grandma’s Midwestern nice. And also that I say things like “for cryin’ out loud” and “you betcha!” I always know I’m channeling Grams when my husband gives me a weird look because I’ve said something like “if it was a snake, it’d have bit me.”
Long story long, I also grew up eating hotdish, strawberry rhubarb pie, and gooey butter cake. And when we’d I’d go to Thrifty’s for an ice cream cone, my friends would get cookies and cream or cotton candy, I’d order pecan praline or rum raisin. So when I was perusing LorAnn Oil’s catalog, and saw they had a pecans & cream extract, I knew I had to come up with a pecan praline recipe.
Always chop by hand or grind add-ins (chocolate chips, candy, nuts, cookies, or dried fruit) in a food processor to the consistency of coarse sand. Large add-ins will leave you with jagged edges when you cut out your cookies.
I always toast any nuts I use for baked good because it kicks the flavor up a notch. I swapped out granulated sugar for brown sugar for the molasses flavor, and whether you use light or dark brown sugar is up to your personal preference. There are also a lot of different pecan flavored extracts — pecan, pecan praline, butter pecan — that I’m sure would all be as delicious as the pecans & cream extract I used.
Are these technically shortbread or sugar cookies?
They’re kind of both. It’s fine to call these either “decorated sugar cookies” or “decorated shortbread cookies.” But I’m going to refer to any of my cookie recipes that can used as a base for cookie decorating as “shortbread sugar cookies.”
- 2 parts flour to 1 part fat
- No eggs
- No leavening agent
- Dense and crispy
- 3 parts flour to 2 parts fat
- Contains eggs
- Contains a leavening agent
- Light and Chewy
All of my shortbread sugar cookie recipes don’t rise or spread, can be used for cookie decorating, have egg, but no leavening agent, and have a 2 ¼ parts flour to 1 part fat. Which makes them fall somewhere between a shortbread and a sugar cookie. They’re both shortbread and sugar cookies, and neither shortbread or sugar cookies, at the same time. They’re Shrodinger’s cookies!
All of my shortbread sugar cookie recipes can be used for slice-and-bake cookies as well!
If you would like more info on my preferred ingredient brands, tips and tricks, FAQs, and a little cookie science, I cover all of that in my No-Spread Lemon Shortbread Sugar Cookie Recipe.
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Pecan Praline Shortbread Sugar Cookies
- measuring cups and spoons
- mixing bowls
- cling wrap
- cookie cutters
- large knife
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup packed brown sugar light or dark
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons pecans & cream extract or pecan extract/emulsion of your choice
- ¾ cup toasted pecans finely ground
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Grind pecans in food processor until texture of coarse sand.
- Whisk dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch and ground pecans) together and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugars with paddle attachment, on medium-low speed, until fluffy and pale in color (about 5 minutes).
- Add egg and extracts, and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the paddle with a spatula, and then continue to mix on low speed for another 30 seconds to ensure everything is fully incorporated.
- Add dry ingredients, all at once, and mix on low speed just until dough starts to come together and no dry bits remain. Do not overmix.
- Turn dough out onto cling wrap, tightly wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
- Knead, roll, cut out cookies, and return to fridge or freezer until firm. Leave a couple inches between cookies.
- Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for another 1-5 minutes until edges are starting to turn golden brown.
- Remove from oven and allow to fully cool on cookie sheet before handling.
- The reason for adding 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch to your dough is to prevent your cookies from shrinking or spreading during baking.
- You want to grind pecans as fine as possible, comparable to the texture of almond meal or coarse sand. Larger pieces will leave you with jagged cookie edges.
- If making slice-and-bake cookies, split dough in half, roll into logs, wrap tightly in cling wrap or parchment paper, and refrigerate before slicing and baking.
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