Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 2-1/2 dozen.
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1-1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise, seeds scraped
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. demerara or turbinado sugar
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the chopped pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 6 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool. (If you are making the dough to put away, do this step in your toaster oven to save energy.)
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the confectioners' sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, vanilla extract and salt at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour in 3 batches, beating at low speed until just incorporated. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the pecans.
Transfer the dough to a work surface and roll into a 1-1/2-inch thick log. Wrap the log in plastic or parchment paper and refrigerated for about 1 hour, until chilled.
Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, Spread the demerara sugar on a platter. Brush the log with the egg yolk and roll in the sugar. Slice the log into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1-inch apart. (Skip this step if you are freezing and when you are ready to bake then do the egg wash and sugar step prior to baking.)
Bake the shortbread cookies for about 20 minutes, until the edges are golden; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let stand until cooled completely, about 30 minutes, before serving.