Early to bed, early to rise. I am an early riser. Often I awaken in darkness and have some version of the following conversation with myself. “If I get up now I can pull some butter and cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften on the counter while I have my coffee. Am I going to even use the butter and cream cheese? And I can look through some cookbooks for inspiration. Do I have any eggs? What was it I ran out of and was supposed to get at the store? Did I remember to get it?” Wide awake I grab the clock to learn it’s 4:17 in the morning. Ugh. I lie in bed as long as I can and then that’s it. I have to get up…have to. It’s still too early to wake the household with my banging about, but I WILL quietly pad to the kitchen, prepare the morning coffee and mull over what it is I want to cook or bake. The morning is deliciously dark, the kitchen hushed and still. It is an exquisite peace, well worth leaving 1200 thread count sheets. No phones ringing, no dog barking, too early for music, my thoughts silently bounce around my noggin with the speed of a crazy ball. This morning I focused on pecans. And butter. Brown butter. And cookies. With a glaze. More brown butter. Rum? Uh-uh…too harsh. Bourbon, yeah, bourbon. A bourbon and brown butter glaze. Bingo. I know what I want to do with the morning. Pecans mean autumn to me as does brown butter. I pull out books, pens, recipes and notebooks. My coffee sits on the window sill of the kitchen as I settle into the window box to sip and see what I can come up with. I know everyone’s excited about pumpkin right now but I just can’t. I’m sorry. I’m already over and done with all the pumpkin. Pumpkin lattes, coffee cake, Rice Krispy treats, cinnamon rolls and snickerdoodles. Maybe sometime I’ll bake off some pumpkin bread but that’s it for pumpkin. Maybe some soup, too. However, pecans? Georgia pecans? Oh, hell yes. Pecans say college ball, the occasional lit fireplace, short days and cool nights. Pecans say gumbo parties, your favorite boots, cashmere, apples and no bad hair days. The result of all this is a cookie that will blow your cozy, autumnal socks off. The glaze is not at all boozy but a warm, soft blanket of icing with the deep, smooth flavor of butter hinting towards bourbon . The cookie is ever so slightly crisp at the edge becoming chewy, salty and buttery with the joyous meeting of sweet pecan to tastebud. Good Lord, but they were good! I say were because I had to get them out of the house. Too much temptation for this girl.
It’s an easy cookie but because the butter is melted when browned, the dough is best chilled overnight. I put together my dough in the afternoon and bake the cookies off the following morning up to a day later. I bake them for exactly 12 minutes because I have a “hot” oven. I need to buy a new oven thermometer and calibrate it but until that happens I’ll just keep a watchful eye on what’s baking. Also, with holiday baking right around the corner, I strongly urge you to pick up a pack of parchment paper. I find the packs at food warehouses and Michael’s craft store also sells it. The packs are by far easier to use rather than the parchment paper rolls sold in boxes. The edges of the boxed paper curl uncontrollably back to their boxed form. Plus I believe the packages are infinitely cheaper. To form the cookies I used a medium cookie scoop which holds 1 1/2 tablespoons. I packed the dough in generously with a bit extra spilling out.
Brown Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies with Brown Butter Bourbon Icing
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cup toasted pecans (400° for 7 minutes), roughly chopped
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
Bourbon Brown Butter Glaze:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- Extra pecan halves for decoration, optional
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot brown the butter over medium heat. Stir continuously and briskly to ensure even browning. It will foam up and begin to brown from the center of the pot. Continue stirring until the butter turns a dark brown. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes off the heat.
- Pour browned butter into a large bowl and add both brown sugars. Mix to combine then add eggs and vanilla. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder. Stir to combine.
- Add toasted, chopped pecans to brown butter/sugar mixture and stir well.
- Add flour mixture to the wet pecan mixture and beat until all ingredients are well incorporated.
- Transfer dough to plastic wrap, shape into a ball, wrap well and chill the dough in the refrigerator until hard and set. I find overnight is best.
- When dough has chilled sufficiently pre-heat oven to 350° and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a medium cookie scoop, cut out dough and place on parchment lined baking sheets. 12 mounds per sheet works best.
- Cover the bottom of a smooth meat pounder, salad plate or small flat-bottomed bowl with plastic wrap and press down on each ball of dough so that it measures about 2 1/2″ in diameter.
- Bake for 12 minutes. Check the bottom of a cookie for browning and if further baking is needed return to oven checking every 2 minutes. These cookies firm up on top once out of the oven so take care not to over bake.
- Cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to cooling rack until completely cool.
Bourbon Brown Butter Glaze
- Place glazing butter in a small heavy bottomed pot and melt over medium heat.
- Remove from heat when the butter is dark brown.
- Carefully, because it will pop and splatter, pour in bourbon and stir vigorously. The alcohol will burn off but you’ll still be left with that caramel like bourbon flavor.
- Stir in confectioner’s sugar and continue stirring until the glaze is smooth and there are no lumps of sugar.
- If the glaze is too thick add milk, water or bourbon one teaspoonful at a time taking care not to make it too runny as you’ll spread the glaze with the back of a spoon.
- Spread one teaspoonful of glaze over each cookie using the back of the spoon to swirl it around and cover the top of the cookie.
- Finish each cookie with one perfect pecan halve pressed into glaze.