There are a few store-bought cookie types I'll always associated with home. Two actually, that my dad always ate. The first is the Oreo, but that's easy to guess. The second is the Pecan Sandie. I have to admit he didn't usually have much competition from us kids for the pecan-studded cookies. We were more interested in things frosted. Preferably with elves. We left the nut cookies mostly to him.
But when my parents came to visit the other week, I thought I'd try my hand at a homemade version of my dad's old favorite. I have to admit that I haven't actually eaten a Pecan Sandie in years. So I can't tell you if these are close, because that wasn't really the point anyway. But they have Pecans, and they are 'sandy' since they're shortbread cookies. Regardless of how close they are, or not, they're still great little nuggets, and I love that Art Smith's recipe makes a pretty modest number of cookies. You'll get about one log out of this to refrigerate and slice, or freeze for later. He says the dough is easily doubled if you make them and find you just can't live without more.
Adopted from Art Smith's Back to the Table
1 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
First toast your pecans. You can just dry toast them by heating up a small skillet on the stove over medium heat and throwing them in. Let them roast, shaking them around a bit, until they're fragrant. Be careful not to burn, this will only take 5-7 minutes, but keep an eye on them the entire time. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together, along with the vanilla, in a large bowl with an electric mixer. You want the butter and sugar to become light and fluffy, which will take around 3 minutes. Stir in the flour mixture, then fold in the pecans until you have a stiff, moldable dough.
Lightly flour a clean work surface and form the dough into a 9" log. Wrap the log tightly and refrigerate until well chilled and firm. You want it to be firm enough to cut it into slices with a knife. You can also freeze the dough at this point if you want to save it.
After about 2 hours of chill time, preheat the oven to 350 F and put a wrack into the center of the oven.
Unwrap the dough, and slice it into 3/8" thick slices. Place the slices about 1" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cookies start to brown around the edges. Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes on the sheet, then transfer them to a cooling wrack to cool completely.
UPDATE: I thought the taste of these cookies really improved by the next day. Also, be careful not to over-toast your pecans, since they'll be baked again in the batter.
UPDATE ROUND TWO: I think in the future I would not toast the pecans prior to putting them into the batter. I think baking them in the cookie will be sufficient and will avoid over-toasting.