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Shortbread – Two Ways for Valentine’s Day

MAPLE PECAN SHORTBREAD


cream butter

I know chocolate is the official Valentine’s Day treat of choice, but there is nothing wrong with saying ‘I love you’ with a little butter and sugar.  Here are two deliciously decadent treats for that special someone or to share the love at the office.


add yolk and extract
dry ingredients

finished mixing

disc

roll out dough

cut cookies out

cooked cookies
ready for Valentine's Day

MAPLE PECAN SHORTBREAD

8oz (2sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

1 egg yolk

¼ tsp pure maple extract*

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup cake flour (not self-rising)

½ tsp kosher salt

¾ cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped

For decorating (optional)

1 egg – for brushing

½ cup sugar in the raw

or festive frosting and sprinkles / royal icing

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and light, about one minute. Add the maple syrup, egg yolk, and extract; beat on medium speed until well combined.

  2. Into a medium bowl, sift flours and salt. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped pecans, set aside.

  3. On low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined. Dough should be smooth and pliable. Flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm, 30 minutes.

  4. Remove dough from fridge and allow to come to room temp, it will be much easier to roll out without cracking. Preheat oven to 350°.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

  5. In between two pieces of parchment, lightly floured (or on a lightly floured work surface), roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut cookies out and place onto prepared baking sheet.

  6. If topping with sugar in the raw, brush tops with beaten egg and generously sprinkle with sugar. If decorating with icing, they are ready to bake.

  7. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before icing.

*the extract is optional but the maple flavor will be very subtle without it

**there is no shame in buying a tube of colorful icing, I would actually recommend it so you can have a few colors without making a huge mess and dying your hands bright red…yes I got some weird looks on the subway. If you are feeling culinarily determined, here is a link to a cookie-decorating pro.

COCONUT – MACADAMIA SHORTBREAD


cream butter
toasted hazelnuts

disc

cutouts

marbled heart

Ok, these did not turn out as beautiful as I had imagined, but they are unbelievably delicious.  A certain member of the peanut gallery, who shall remain nameless, expressed his dislike for “chalky and overly sugary” royal icing while testing a previous batch – and since said commentator would be the recipient of these Valentine cookies, I decided to try a different route.  To still have that festive color, I added the red to the dough and topped with the coconut instead of icing.  For any occasion other than Valentine’s Day, I would leave the food coloring out.


pre-oven
post-oven

COCONUT – MACADAMIA SHORTBREAD

1 cup macadamia nuts (about 3 ounces)

8oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 tsp pure coconut extract

½ cup sweetened shredded coconut – plus about 1 cup for topping

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ cup heavy cream, plus some for brushing

red food coloring*

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚.  Toast macadamias until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before chopping roughly.

  2. Cream butter and sugar mixer with the paddle attachment; beat on medium until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides, add the coconut extract and mix just to combine.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, ½ cup coconut, and chopped macadamias.  With mixer on low, add the dry ingredients.  Once it has been added, scrape the sides and continue mixing until combined but still crumbly.

  4. Whisk red food coloring into heavy cream.  Turn mixer on low and slowly pour in the cream, mix until dough comes together.

  5. Halve dough. Shape halves into disks, and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes.

  6. Let dough soften before rolling. Roll out each disk in between two pieces of parchment, lightly floured, to about ¼ inch thick – using two cutting boards or books of the same width to help roll dough out evenly.

  7. Cut dough with cookie cutter. Reroll scraps; continue cutting out squares. Space about 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment. Lightly brush tops with cream and sprinkle with coconut. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

*this is optional – another option is to use pink icing once cookies are out of the oven and cooled, then top with coconut

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