Is it possible to improve on something as nearly perfect as shortbread? Let's find out with this butter pecan shortbread recipe.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup pecans, finely ground
Measure the flour and brown sugar into a bowl, and have your young helper stir them together.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Now, blend in the flour mixture, beating until smooth, then beat in the vanilla and, finally, the ground pecans. The dough should be firm enough to handle - if it's too soft, refrigerate it for an hour or so before shaping and baking.
Cookie time: Take about a teaspoon (5 ml) of dough and roll it by hand into a ball. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten gently with the bottom of a glass or the tines of a fork to about 1/4 in. (0.5 cm) thick. You can experiment and create different textures using various objects (Duplo blocks, potato masher, sneaker soles - just kidding) to flatten the dough. We used a meat mallet to squash some of our cookies and they turned out really neat - with a sort of waffle-pattern on them. Bake at 325°F (160°C) for 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly golden on the bottom. The tops should stay light coloured.