May and June are all about travel.
My first bit or travel has come and gone. I spent a weekend in the mountains of California eating, drinking, learning, and making friends at Camp Blogaway! It was my first year to attend, and I had the distinct honor of speaking on the subject of Beating Blogger Burnout. I had an absolute blast at camp, and was thrilled to connect with new friends and reconnect with good friends. Speaking of good friends, Andrew over at Eating Rules was kind enough to offer me a ride to camp, as well as his supremely comfortable guest room to stay in before and after our weekend. For breakfast the first morning he, generously, offered to cook breakfast. While discussing toast topping options he introduced me to what has become my new favorite spread – toasty, nutty, and oh so rich pecan butter! I love pecans, but never thought to make them into a butter before. Now that I have tasted it in butter form I can safely say there is no turning back! I am hooked! So hooked that I made it my mission to incorporate this delectable concoction into a dessert first thing upon my return home.
I have a soft spot for sandwich cookies. They are cute, tasty, and they are a great place to play with new flavors. These cookies start with a pecan butter infused short bread cookie, delicately sweet and crumbly, that is stuffed with a rich chocolate frosting. You could use a vanilla filling, or a berry filling, but chocolate felt right to me. The warm, nutty flavor of the cookie pairs well with the rich chocolate filling. I am including, at the end of this post, a recipe for the pecan butter I used in this recipe. The pecan butter itself is lovely on toast (thank you Andrew!), crackers, used as a dip for berries, and eaten directly of a spoon … or licked off a finger. Not that I am admitting to such an act.
Chocolate Filled Pecan Shortbread Sandwich Cookies Yield 2 dozen
For the cookies:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, chilled
1/3 cup pecan butter (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons milk, 2% or higher
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the filling:
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk, 2% or higher
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat the oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, combine all the ingredients for the cookies. Mix on low speed until the dough just comes together, then increase the speed to medium for 30 seconds, or until the dough is smooth and starting to clump around the paddle.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface and press into a smooth rectangle. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Using a small cookie or biscuit cutter, about 1-inch in diameter, cut out as many cookies as you can. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets about 1/4-inch apart. Re-roll the scraps and cut additional cookies. Discard any remaining scraps.
Bake the cookies for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the bottom edge of the cookies is just turning golden brown and the centers of the cookies are slightly puffed. Cool the cookies completely on the pans.
While the cookies cool prepare the filling.
In a medium bowl cream together the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, and vanilla and mix until smooth. If necessary add more powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time to stiffen the filling if it seems too loose. It should have the consistency of thick cake frosting.
Once the cookies are cool spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of filling on half of the cookies. It is easier to pipe the filling onto the cookies with a piping bag. Top with a second cookie and gently press to spread the filling to the edges. Store the cookies in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Allow to cookies to sit at room temperature for ten minutes before serving.
Pecan Butter Yield 1 cup
2 1/2 cups pecans
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Heat the oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the pecans on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring the pecans every 3 minutes to ensure even toasting. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cool add the nuts to the work bowl of a food processor or blender and blend, stopping to scrape down the sides frequently, until the pecans form a smooth paste. Add the sugar, salt, and cinnamon and mix to combine. The mixture may be very loose.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.