Double rum makes these flavorful cookies doubly irresistible
Shortbread with pecans and rum. How did that happen?
Well, Mrs. Kitchen Riffs set out to make some plain shortbread cookies. But she was feeling nut-crazed—and happened to have some nice pecans on hand. So she couldn’t resist grinding them up and adding them to the dough. The result was delish, but it cried out for holiday flavoring. And what could be more festive than rum? In went a couple teaspoons.
The cookies that emerged from the oven were wonderful, with a subtle rum note. Then Mrs K R said, “Oh, hey, it’s holiday time. Let’s get down and decadent!”
So she doubled the fun by adding a rum-flavored frosting. Which made these cookies epic, IMHO. I bet you’ll agree.
Recipe: Rum-Frosted Pecan Shortbread Cookies
As the intro to this post suggests, these are fancied up shortbread cookies. They somewhat resembe our Black Walnut Sandies. But Mrs. Kitchen Riffs (the baker in our household) got some additional ideas from a pecan shortbread recipe by Monica Glass. The frosting makes these morsels rich and irresistible.
Mixing the dough for these cookies takes 20 to 30 minutes. Then you need to chill the dough for at least half an hour in the freezer (or an hour in the fridge). It takes another 15 minutes or so to cut the cookies and bake them (though you may need to bake multiple rounds).
This recipe makes about 3 to 4 dozen cookies (depending on how large you make them). They keep well for a week or more if stored in an airtight container.
For the cookies:
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup pecans, coarsely ground
- 2 teaspoons dark rum (can substitute vanilla extract)
- 1 additional stick unsalted butter, melted
- 16 ounces confectioner’s sugar
- 2 additional tablespoons dark rum (or to taste; optional)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pecan halves for garnish (optional)
For the cookies:
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cornstarch, and salt). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter with the brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in the ground pecans and beat until well blended. Add the dark rum and mix well.
- Tear off an 18-inch length of wax or parchment paper. Spoon a few dollops of dough down the length of the paper until you’ve formed a strip about 10 to 12 inches long and about 2 inches thick (the dough will be soft). Fold the paper lightly around the dough. Using your hands to press against the paper with a slight rolling action, shape the dough into an oblong-shaped log. Repeat until you have formed all the dough into logs.
- Wrap the dough in the paper, then place in plastic wrap or a plastic food storage bag. Place the dough logs in the freezer for at least half an hour, or in the refrigerator for at least a full hour (can chill overnight; see Notes).
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place one rack in the lower third position, the other in the upper third position. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Unwrap the chilled dough (which should now be firm) and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into slices of ¼ inch or so. Place the cookies on the prepared cookie sheets, spacing them about an inch apart.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are set and becoming brown around the edges. Halfway through, reverse the cookie sheets (switch from top to bottom, and front to back) to ensure even baking.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on their sheets for five minutes. Then, using a wide spatula, transfer them to a wire rack to continue cooling. While the cookies are cooling, make the frosting (see below).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer), mix 1 stick of melted butter with the confectioner’s sugar until smooth.
- Add rum (if using), then vanilla extract. Beat until fluffy.
- Use a knife or spatula to frost each cookie generously. Garnish with pecan halves, if desired. Serve and enjoy.
- Adding cornstarch to the dough helps keep the cookies soft. You could probably substitute cake flour for the combo of all-purpose flour-plus-cornstarch, but we haven’t tried this.
- You can substitute light brown sugar in this recipe, though we think dark brown yields the best flavor.
- For grinding the pecans, we generally use a mini-food processor. A few quick whirls is enough to grind pecans (or other nuts, such as walnuts) to the perfect texture.
- You could substitute light or amber rum in this recipe. But dark rum adds a particularly rich note to these cookies. We used Myers’s Jamaican, but any decent brand of dark rum should work.
- If you don’t want to use alcohol in these cookies, you can substitute vanilla extract or another flavoring of your choice.
- You can mix the dough for these cookies a day ahead, and then chill it overnight. When ready to bake, just proceed with Step 5 of the cookie procedure.
- These cookies are best when the dough is sliced fairly thin and the cookies are baked until they’re starting to brown.
“Probably should put out a plate of these for Santa on Christmas Eve,” I said, taking another cookie.
“Yup,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Santa Claus must be a cookie expert by now. It would be nice to get his professional opinion.”
“After one of these, he’ll probably rustle up some particularly nice presents for you,” I said. “Don’t forget to pour him a glass of milk, too.”
“Think I’ll put out a cocktail instead,” said Mrs K R. “I’ll bet free drinks are what he relies on to keep warm in that open sleigh.”
“Hey, you’re right,” I said. “That must be why he’s so jolly.”
“And you know all that milk people put out for him?” added Mrs K R. “He gives it to his reindeer.”
Merry Christmas to all. And to all a good bite.
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