Salted Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Place the diced butter in a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the flour, powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle the frozen butter pieces over the flour, and cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly. You don't need to incorporate the butter too much - you should have some pieces that are slightly bigger than peas, and the mixture should still be very dry and floury.
Stir 1/4 cup of the chopped pecans into the flour butter mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla. Add the egg vanilla mixture, a little at a time, to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork to moisten. Now, get your hands in there, working quickly, so that the heat of your hands does not warm the butter too much, and work the egg yolk into the dough for 1 minute.
Sprinkle the ice water, a teaspoon at a time, over the dough, working it in with your fingers as you would with pie dough, just until you are able to gather the dough together - it shouldn't be too wet or sticky, but not so dry that it doesn't hold together. You may need slightly more or less ice water. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten slightly into a disk.
Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
Place the dough on a sheet of parchment or wax paper, then place another sheet on top of the dough (if you double the recipe, divide the dough in half and only work with half at a time when you roll and cut it out). Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter dipped in powdered sugar, cut as many cookies as you can; alternatively, you can just use a sharp knife dipped in powdered sugar and cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Use a spatula or pastry scraper to loosen the dough from the parchment, using a little powdered sugar if needed, and place the cookies on the baking sheet. They can be placed very close together but not touching (1/2 - 1 inch between them), since these cookies will not spread out when they bake (I fit 24 cookies on one sheet). Gather up the scraps of dough, and continue rolling and cutting cookies until you've used up the dough.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer to freeze the cookies for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the cookies, straight from the freezer, for 10-12 minutes. Since they will still appear very pale in color, and they do not rise or spread, you may have a hard time telling if they're done, but you'll see the bottom edges just starting to turn golden brown, which means they're ready to take out of the oven. Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Melt the white chocolate according to the directions on the package. Before dipping the cookies, place the wire cooling racks over a baking sheet to catch any drips. Dip the cooled cookies in the melted chocolate, so that just one half of the cookie is coated in chocolate, shake off the excess, and place on the wire rack. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped pecans and a bit of salt before the chocolate sets. When you no longer have enough chocolate to dip the cookies in, scrape the remainder of the melted chocolate into a zip-lock bag, snip off the corner, and drizzle the remainder of the cookies with the chocolate. Place the cookies in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to completely set the chocolate. Once set, they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Yields 2 dozen cookies.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen