The Toasting Tip For More Flavorful Pecan Sandies

If you love pecans and shortbread cookies, pecan sandies are likely at the top of your baking list. Crispy and full of buttery pecan flavor, pecan sandies are an American cousin of the French sable cookie — sable meaning sand in French. In this case, sandy refers to the light crumbly texture of the cookie that melts in your mouth. The ingredient list is short, and that means you should pay attention to the quality of each item for the best result. Since pecans are the central flavor here, we recommend you toast them for the best flavor before mixing them into the dough.

Lightly toasting nuts allows their flavor to shine in baking recipes (and for snacking, too). For best results, always toast nuts when they are whole rather than chopped. Chopped nuts are not consistent in size, and the smaller pieces are easily over-toasted and bitter before the larger pieces are fully toasted. Toasting pecans while they are still whole allows you to get a perfectly brown, flavorful, and crisp batch of nuts to chop for your cookies.

Successful toasting and baking

We've all accidentally burned a batch of expensive nuts while trying to toast them. Here are our best tips for avoiding that sad outcome. Since you'll be pre-heating your oven to bake the cookies anyway, spread the whole pecans out evenly onto a baking sheet. Place them in the oven, set a timer for five minutes, and then stir the nuts. Check for browning and flavor by tasting one nut. Add a few more minutes to the timer, stirring and checking until the nuts are done. Pour them onto a plate to cool since the heat of the cookie sheet could cause them to cook more.

When the nuts are lightly browned, only then chop them finely for the cookies. The crunchy bits will be easy to mix into the soft dough, ready to add their distinctive flavor. Chilling the finished dough will prevent the pecans from overcooking during the final bake and keep the cookies from spreading too much. Enjoy your sandy, nutty cookies, and consider toasting nuts for all your favorite cookie recipes, too — the added flavor is well worth the extra step!