These little shortbread squares from Alice Medrich are crumbly but delicious. They have a complex butterscotch-y flavor with a great crunch from the pecans. The method here is somewhat unusual for a shortbread (at least in my experience). The butter is melted, creating a very soft dough that is pressed into the baking pan. The cookies are baked twice - once whole in the pan, and then sliced, separated, and baked again, in a similar technique to baking biscotti. Absolultely try these out - they are perfect "side-of-the-saucer" cookies with an interesting combination of flavors and textures.
Pecan Penuche Shortbreads with Rum (adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich)
12 T unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) firmly packed light muscovado sugar
1 T dark rum
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped out with the back of a knife
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) all purpose flour
2/3 cup (2.6 ounces) pecans, coarsely chopped
granulated sugar, to sprinkle
1. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with foil.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter with the sugar, rum, vanilla seeds, and salt. Add the flour and about half of the pecans and mix until just incorporated. Scrape the dough into the pan and pat down into an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the remaining pecans on top of the dough and press lightly on top of the dough. Bake for 45 minutes and then remove the pan from the oven, leaving the heat on. Sprinkle the surface of the shortbread with sugar and let cool 10 minutes.
4. Carefully remove the shortbread from the pan using the foil. Use a sharp knife to cut into small squares. Place the squares slightly apart on a foil-lined baking sheet and return to the oven for 15 minutes to lightly toast the shortbreads. These keep for several weeks in an airtight container...if they last that long!