January 17, 2012

Mexican Shortbread

Each year around Christmas time, my kitchen floor is dusted with a bit more sugar as I try a few new cookie recipes along with my family favorites. This year I found a cookie that might have to make its way onto my table more often than once a year. This Cooking Light recipe makes a decadent cookie that hits all the right notes: sweet, salty and a bit spicy.

Mexican Spiced Shortbread Cookies
 1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. chile powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. butter, softened
36 pecan halves

Preheat oven to 325ºF. To prepare nuts, combine sugar, salt and butter together in a medium bowl. Arrange pecans on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes or until toasted. Add hot pecans to butter mixture, tossing well to coat. Cool.

To prepare cookies, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and chile powder. Place butter in a large bowl, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add oil, and beat 3 minutes or until well blended. Gradually add powdered sugar, and beat well. Add flour mixture, and beat on low until well blended. Cover, and chill 30 minutes. 

Shape chilled dough into 36 balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten cookies to 1/4-inch thickness. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool 1 minute on sheets, and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

To prepare icing, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and milk. Cook 1 minute or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, whisking until smooth.

To make cookie perfection, spread 1 tsp. icing over each cookie and top with 1 pecan half.

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