Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Caramel-dipped pecan shortbread


A couple of weekends ago, my friend Lizzy (of the romesco sauce) and I took a baking class at Tante Marie. I've been obsessed with Tante Marie ever since I toured it five years ago when I was considering going to pastry school. While I decided against school, I've never been able to shake the feeling that spending multiple hours a day at this cozy little school would have been one of the best things in the world.

However, the life of the professional pastry chef is not for me. But that doesn't mean I can't take a class now and then.

We signed up for a Holiday Baking class, which promised that we would learn to make all kinds of delicious things, like layered chocolate peppermint cake and Thomas Keller's nutter butters.

The class was comprised of 14 people and for the actual baking we split off into pairs. Liz and I were in charge of gingerbread cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting, caramel-dipped shortbread, and a fennel and persimmon salad to be eaten as part of our savory lunch. When everything was done, we admired a spread of more than a dozen treats.

It was easy to pick out my favorites--Pierre Herme's chocolate sables with sea salt, which I will be posting about soon, and these gorgeous little shortbreads. In fact, these were the two kinds of cookies I chose to make for our family's annual baking day this past weekend.

The shortbreads are very simple to make, especially because our teacher told us not to bother rolling out the dough but instead to pinch it into pinkie-sized sticks. Easy peasy! This was also my first time making caramel, and why I was ever intimidated by it before I shall never know.

So if you're looking for a new holiday cookie, look no further. This one's a crowd pleaser.


Caramel-dipped pecan shortbread
From Tante Marie

Shortbread:
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. pecans, toasted and ground
2/3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. salt

Caramel:
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. butter
2 T. heavy cream
pinch salt
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 c. toasted ground pecans

For the cookies: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, butter, pecans, powdered sugar, and salt. Mix until the dough just comes together when squeezed in your hand.

Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 and set the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll to form little sticks about the size of your pinkie. Place the sticks on baking sheets, 1 inch apart from each other. Bake until barely golden, about 15 minutes, swapping the sheets on the oven racks halfway through. Place the baking sheets on racks to cool for 5 minutes, then take the cookies off the sheets and cool them completely on a rack.

For the caramel, combine the brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Let cook for 1 minute, then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cream, salt, and powdered sugar. Dip one end of each cookie into the caramel then immediately roll the caramel-covered end in the pecans. Transfer the cookies to waxed paper to let the caramel set.

Makes 3-4 dozen.

19 comments:

  1. I'm all ready to start making cookies!! I usually make Ina's pecan bars at Xmas which consist of shortbread crust topped by a caramel-y/pecan layer. This sounds similar and easier (and delicious) so may have to try. - Pete

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  2. Waw, goegous & stunning looking pecan shortbread cookies!

    MMMMMMM,..great to get as a food gift!!

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  3. I love shortbread! It's such an overlooked cookie.

    And Tante Marie! I'm always interested in hearing about other schools and classes.

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  4. i have issues--to me, that first picture looks like three felons lined up, waiting for the witness to finger 'em. :)

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  5. oooooh, these look luscious! I'd be in big trouble if I was left alone in a room with these beauties!
    *kisses* HH

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  6. Pete: I have always wanted to make that Ina recipe--esp since I tried the ones you made! These aren't quite as decadent as those but they are very good--more delicate.

    Sophie: Indeed-I have been giving them away right and left :)

    Jessica: It seems like a great school--though I dont know how it would compare to your program...

    grace: I can see that.

    HH: Who would have to know? ;)

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  7. I have loved shortbread since I was a kid. With the caramel and pecans, I think I may love it more!

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  8. A holiday baking class sounds fun, and these cookies sound quite good too. Perfect with a hot cup of coffee or tea, for sure.

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  9. How fun! I would love to try a cooking/baking class some day.

    Those cookies will be made by me soon! They look awesome :)

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  10. What a fun class! These look wonderful...I thought I was through baking cookies. Maybe not.

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  11. Connie: Give this one a try!

    oneordinaryday: Yes, these are the perfect amount of sweet to go with coffee.

    tamilyn: let me know how they turn out!

    Barbara: Add 'em to your list!

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  12. I can vouch for these. So delicious and awfully cute too. I can't wait to give them a try myself and maybe check out Tante Marie, too!

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  13. Wish I lived near you Hungry Dog! I want to go to a class with you :) These look decadent, and I seriously started drooling at the words chocolate, sables and salt, Actually started before that at the words gingerbread and cupcakes! Sounds like a wonderful day HD, hope you're enjoying the lead up to Christmas. I'm going to finally start my Christmas bakign tomorrow, wish me luck :)

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  14. alittleyum: we should do a TM class together!

    shaz: wouldn't that be fun? Yes, the sables were really delicious, I might need to make some more of them today! Good luck with your baking today--have fun!

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  15. I am tempted to give this one a try ( love, love your recipes). Dipping these shortbreads into a really good cup of coffee would be a beautiful thing.

    Happy Holidays to you Hungry Dog!

    Velva

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  16. Oooh, they do look really cute. And how fun to take a cooking class. Was that an early Christmas gift to yourself? ;-)

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  17. Velva: Happy holidays to you as well!

    Ben: more of a birthday pres ;)

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  18. These remind me of my favorite spritz cookies dipped in caramel or chocolate at my neighborhood bakery when I was a kid. YUM! Can't wait to try yours, as well. Happy holidays!

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  19. I found ur blog when i was looking for shortbread ,im always lookn for shortbread and lovee shortbread !
    Am so excited with this T.Marie recipe and am sure gng to try this one.
    Am look around for more TM recipes:-)
    U sure had a fun class!

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