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Nutty Puffs

Most people I know are divided when it comes to shortbread.  They either love it, or hate it.  I’m in between.  I don’t care much for shortbread but I do love this version of pecan shortbread, covered in powdered sugar and served at my family’s holiday table.  I don’t know where the name came from, but I spent a while with Google trying to find out, to no avail.  These are a requested treat from my Grandmother and she never disappoints.

Nutty Puffs
by Jason Osborne
yields four to five dozen cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 cups chopped pecans*
1 box or bag of powdered sugar

Cream butter, vanilla, and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the nuts and flour alternatively in two or three batches.  Mix until it just comes together.  The mixture will be crumbly.  If the mixture is extremely crumbly, add a tablespoon of cold water and mix a bit more.  You’ll need to form the cookies with your hands.  Elongated shapes are fine, quarter or silver-dollar sized cookies are fine as well.  My mother’s recipe card says bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes on the bottom rack.  My grandmother’s recipe card says 30-40 minutes.  So, I split the difference and they were just fine at 25 minutes.  I recommend pulling a cookie at 20 minutes and testing to see how crunchy it is.

Pull from the oven and remove to a wire rack for just a brief minute before rolling in powdered sugar.  Put on a sheet of waxed paper until cooled completely, then roll again in more powdered sugar for more of a “puff” factor.

*Tip: When reading a recipe, look for the use of the comma or word order to clarify directions.  The instruction reads “two cups chopped pecans,” so in this instance, you should end up with two cups of pecan bits.  Had the instruction read “two cups of pecans, chopped,” it would obviously mean start with two cups of whole nuts.