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Maple Vanilla Pecan Shortbread


My great aunt Oolie McGoogan, made a simple, delicious shortbread that she learned from her husband Angus’ family. Shortbread was always butter, flour, yellow sugar and a pinch of salt. The trick to the success of her shortbread was to knead it for at least 20 minutes. After it was cut into fingers and baked, it was supposed to rest for at least a week before serving. You didn’t mess with it, and we all got a tin of her shortbread for the holidays.  How times have changed!

Here is my take on shortbread – or at least one of them. It’s such a versatile basic recipe that adapts well for just about everything.


Maple Vanilla Pecan Shortbread



3 sticks (1-1/2 cups) good quality unsalted butter

1 cup maple sugar* (You can substitute light brown sugar if preferred)

1/3 teaspoon Rain’s Choice Ground Vanilla Bean

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

A pinch or more of salt – to taste

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

Rain’s Choice Vanilla Sugar for dusting tops

Milk or cream


Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Place butter into a large bowl. Using a hand-held mixer, blend in maple sugar and vanilla bean powder until well incorporated and the butter is light and fluffy.

Add in flour, a cup at a time, until well blended. Fold in pecans. Chill dough.

Break dough into several pieces and put one piece on a floured surface. Using a rolling pin or your hand, roll or pat dough to between 1/4 and 1/3 inch thick. Cut dough with a small cookie or biscuit cutter or use a knife and cut into fingers. Prick dough twice with a fork and place on a cookie sheet.

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush tops of each cookie with milk or cream (can use water if you prefer). Lightly sprinkle vanilla sugar on top of each cookie.

Bake until cookies are lightly golden brown and firm on top, about 20 – 30 minutes, depending on thickness. Cool on rack.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks (assuming they last that long).


*You can order maple sugar online if you don’t live in maple sugar country. One option is www.goodwinfamilymaple.com

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Patricia Rain
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.

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