I’m in love with this recipe — Part cookie, part pie, Pecan Pie Shortbread is a fun twist on tradition. It looks just like a classic pie, but underneath the crunchy pecans there’s a thick layer of buttery vanilla shortbread. It’s got the same familiar flavors, the same sweet touch that we’re looking for after dinner, but in a lighter form. It makes a beautiful presentation with very little effort. Great taste + easy to make + beautiful to look at = a winner recipe in my book.
To make this I spread a batch of my basic vanilla shortbread dough into a tart pan, and then I stud the top with pecan halves. A small bag of nut halves was enough to cover the surface and it’s fun to create the design. I pressed them in gently with the palm of my hand so they stay put when cutting later. The pecans crisp up in the oven and develop a rich toasted flavor. If you ask me they’re so much better this way than all candied up in pie goop (sorry pecan pie lovers.) The shortbread puffs up just slightly in the oven, and the whole thing is just delightful.
Another great feature of this shortbread is its versatility. It goes from coffee break to holiday dessert…you can slice it just like pie and eat it with a fork, or pick it up with your hands. I’ve eaten it for breakfast twice already.
I think this would make a great gift, especially if you leave it whole and wrap it up with cellophane.
A wonderfully easy, light alternative to traditional pecan pie, Serve with coffee or tea for the perfect end to a meal, whether it's the holidays, or every day.
What You Will Need
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
- Set oven to 350F
- Cream the butter and sugar well in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or use a hand held mixer.
- Blend in the vanilla, and then mix in the flour, just until it comes together to form a dough.
- Turn the dough out into a nonstick 9" tart pan, preferably with a removable bottom for neat cutting. Use your hands to smooth out the dough into an even layer. Finish smoothing with an offset spatula or spreader. You are looking for a flat even surface.
- Arrange the pecan halves decoratively across the entire surface. When you are satisfied with your design, press them into the dough with gentle pressure from the palm of your hand. This will ensure they won't fall off when you cut the shortbread.
- Cover the top of the tart loosely with a square of foil to keep the pecans from browining too much, and bake for about 35-40 minutes.
- Cool on a rack and then remove from the pan and slice into thin wedges with a sharp knife.
The vanilla bean paste is really worth it, it gives a richer vanilla flavor, plus you get the beautiful vanilla bean seeds throughout. It can sometimes be hard to find, but you can always order it online.
My husband discovered that adding a drizzle of the caramel sauce I made for the “Frozen Turkey” cocktails yesterday is not a bad idea at all…