Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Sunday? Not in East Hampton.

This afternoon I attended a lovely piano recital at Ellen Johansen's Music Studio in East Hampton. Heart-shaped post-it notes on the bulletin board announced the program, which included selections from Gershwin, Schumann, and Bergmuller. I baked these heart-shaped pecan shortbread cookies drizzled with chocolate to share with the performers, their parents, and Ellen. Here is the recipe:

Pecan Shortbread Hearts
Makes about 36 cookies

1 cup (4 ounces) pecan halves
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant and toasted, about 7 minutes. Let them cool completely and then finely chop them (I did this in the food processor).
2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the flour on low. Beat in the chopped nuts on low. Scrape the dough onto the countertop, press into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees again. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured countertop, roll the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut otu as many hearts as you can and place them, 1/2-inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, one sheet at a time, until the edges of the cookies are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Slide the parchment onto a wire rack and cool the cookies. Re-roll and cut any scraps, bake, and cool.
4. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until it is just barely melted, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Stir it every 30 second to make sure you aren't overheating it.
5. Dip the tines of a fork into the chocolate and then wave the fork over the cookies (still on the parchment--otherwise you will make a mess!) to create a striped chocolate decoration. Let the cookies stand until the chocolate has set, about 15 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature, between sheets of waxed paper, for up to 3 days.


  1. Dear Lauren, I shared your post with all my musikgarten teachers and here is one response.
    What a beautiful presentation. I really want to try this recipe. I also love mint. Since you are a culinary artist, would you tell me how to best incorporate mint extract into the batter or into the chocolate or if you wouldn't even advise it at all. Thanks a bunch,
    Esther's Musikgarter
    Aubern, WA

    I will forward any answer,


    Thanks for the post. It is lovely. I didn't get a cookie....

  2. Hmmm. You could replace the vanilla with half as much mint extract. But then I'd use white sugar instead of brown, so you don't get that molasses flavor, which I think would be weird with the mint. What do you think?