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Brown Butter-Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Yield: about 24 cookies

Brown butter enhances the sweet pecan flavor of these delicately sandy-textured shortbread cookies. Make sure to refrigerate the brown butter until it is cold and firm before creaming it with the sugar.


  • 8 oz. (1 cup) plus 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) pecan halves
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, separated and at room temperature
  • 2-1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for dusting
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 190
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 130
  • Fat (g): 14
  • Saturated Fat (g): 5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6
  • Cholesterol (mg): 25
  • Sodium (mg): 50
  • Carbohydrates (g): 16
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Sugar (g): 7
  • Protein (g): 2


  • Using the 8 oz. of butter, prepare the brown butter as directed in the master Brown Butter recipe. Refrigerate the butter until firm, 30 minutes to one hour.
  • In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. When it starts to bubble, add the pecans and stir constantly until the nuts are warmed through and smell toasty, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the nuts onto a baking sheet, and sprinkle with 1 Tbs. of the sugar. Toss to coat, then cool completely. When cool, coarsely chop 1 cup of the nuts and set aside. Finely chop the remaining nuts.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cold brown butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, and beat well. Add the egg yolk and vanilla, and beat to combine well, stopping to scrape down the bowl with a silicone spatula. Add the flour and salt, and mix on low speed until the dough is soft and smooth. Using a silicone spatula, stir in the coarsely chopped pecans, and then gently work them into the dough by hand.
  • Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide into two pieces. Roll each piece into a log about 6 inches long and 1-1/2 inches thick. Wrap each log in parchment, twisting the ends tightly. Refrigerate until firm enough to slice, 2 hours or up to overnight.
  • Remove one dough log from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and brush generously with half of the reserved egg white. Roll the log in half of the finely chopped pecans, making sure that the log is completely covered with nuts, pressing them into the dough with your hands, if necessary. Using a sharp knife, slice the log into rounds slightly less than 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining dough log.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 300°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Place the slices on the baking sheet, 1 inch apart. Bake for 18 to 21 minutes, until the shortbread loses its shine and feels set and slightly firm to the touch. The cookies should not brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack, and allow the cookies to cool on the pan. When the shortbread is completely cool, transfer to a serving plate, or store in a tightly covered container for up to one week.


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Reviews (2 reviews)

  • korina | 06/28/2020

    Didn’t work for me either. I didn’t even get all of the flour in and it’s too dry to come together. So I guess I’m making pecan shortbread crumbs.

  • user-3003106 | 06/27/2019

    Help! Maybe because I measured instead if weighed the flour ? I have 3 rolls and they are falling apart. Probably won’t turn out. :(

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