Buttery, melt in your mouth shortbread filled with chopped pecans, coated in maple syrup glaze and decorated in candied bacon or pecan bits. These Pecan Maple Shortbread Cookies embody Autumn in their flavours. Buttery, crunchy, sweet and salty - there’s a little bit for everyone in these cookies.
Shortbread has to be one of those staple cookie recipes that every baker has in their portfolio. These aren’t any old shortbread though. These are the PERFECT version for Autumn baking.
How to make great shortbread
Alright. Before we get into the different elements that make up these Pecan Maple Shortbread Cookies, we need to start off with standard shortbread. With only three ingredients that you’ll have in your kitchen, it really is easy to make.
What are the three main ingredients? Butter, flour and sugar
You can make a beautiful tasting shortbread cookie with these three ingredients alone. But I choose to add vanilla extract to impart another layer of flavour to the basic recipe.
Read on for some great tips to help you make shortbread.
TIPS FOR GREAT SHORTBREAD
- Butter not margarine. Shortbread is comprised of fat, the butter, flour and sugar. Margerine contains a much lower percentage of fat, only 35%, and the rest is water. Margerine wouldn’t solidify enough for the shortbread to hold it’s shape and without the necessary fat in the dough the resulting cookies won’t have the buttery, melt in your mouth ’short’ texture.
- Don’t overwork the dough. When it comes to combining your ingredients and forming the dough be carful not to overwork it. If you do then too much gluten will develop and this will result in chewy, sometimes tough cookies.
- Refrigerate your cookie dough. Once your cookies are cut out and laid on a baking tray, chilling the dough will then allow for the fat to solidify again and thus allows the cookies to retain their shape whilst baking
What to add to turn your cookies into an Autumnal Flavour Bomb
Once you have a great shortbread base, you can basically add anything to impart more flavour, any kinds of nuts, zest of citrus fruit, chopped dried fruit, tea leaves or chocolate. There are so many flavour combinations that it's hard to just pick one.
However, we’re making cookies to suit the season. Autumn. And the flavours that spring to mind, other than all things pumpkin, spice and cinnamon, are ... maple and pecan.
The smell, the deep, rich taste and that beautiful amber colour of maple syrup screams Autumn. And to me when I think of maple syrup I instantly think of pancakes and bacon.
Am I right? Perfect pairing. Why not bring these two flavour besties together and just for fun, add some pecan crunch inside the cookie.
Pecan, Maple and Bacon. Oh yeah... those are some pretty tasty elements right there. Crunchy, sweet and salty. (NOTE if you are a vegetarian then omit the meat and decorate with more chopped pecans instead)
I know, i know you just died and went to bacon heaven. I swear to you - it is THAT good.
To make candied bacon is simple
- Brush your bacon with maple syrup
- Lay bacon strips on a lined baking tray
- Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes before turning and baking for a further 5 or so minutes until golden and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and lay on paper towel until cool.
- Chop into fine bits.
- Sprinkle onto the glazed cookies followed with a small pinch of flaked salt
Just incase the idea of adding a meat product onto your sweet cookie makes your stomach turn, or if you are a vegan or vegetarian, then just replace the bacon with candied pecans. These are incredible and you’ll have to stop yourself eating them right off the baking tray.
To make candied pecans.
- In a bowl toss your pecans in maple syrup.
- Lay out pecans on a lined baking tray
- Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray.
- Chop into small pieces and toss through a pinch of flaked sea salt.
- Sprinkle onto the glazed cookies
So there you have it- two alternatives to top you cookies with. Both are insanely delicious. You could even mix the pecans and bacon together.
That beautiful shape
As I was fully into my Autumnal kick I went full steam ahead and decided to cut the cookies into these beautiful leaf shapes. You can find a myriad of leaf shaped cookie cutters on instagram.
But remember my tip above - make sure to shill the dough once you have cut out the shapes.
As for the maple glaze (a simple combination of butter, icing sugar and maple syrup), the ridged, textural detail you see was accidental.
I’d made the glaze thick so that it coated the top of the cookies fully without running off the side. I lay the cookie on top of the glaze, like it was floating and when the face was totally covered I gently lifted it off lifting the top off first. The weight of the thick glaze created the most perfect ridge detail that allowed the leaf shape to come to life. I was so happy!
I do hope that you make this recipe. It embodies the season that we’re in right now.
For more Autumn recipes, please check out:
Peach Crumble Cups. Recipe found here.
Roasted Plum Popsicles. Recipe found here.
Baked S’mores Donuts . Recipe by my blogging friend Mike. Recipe found here.
Pecan Maple Shortbread
- 125 g unsalted butter, ½ cup & 1 tablespoon cut into small cubes
- 180 g plain flour (all-purpose), 11/4 cups
- 60 g caster sugar, ¼ cup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 40 g pecans, ¼ cup finely chopped
Candied bacon and pecans
- 8 streaky bacon rashes, brushed in maple syrup
- 40 g pecans, ¼ cup
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp flaked sea salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, 30g
- 120 ml maple syrup, 120ml ½ cup
- 110 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners' sugar), 1 cup
- Heat the oven to 170°C (335°F). In a bowl, combine the butter and flour and using your fingers rub together until you get a fine bread crumb consistency.
- Add the sugar, vanilla extract and chopped pecans to the butter mixture and work together until you get a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Flour your surface and roll out dough to ½ a cm thick (or more if you prefer). Using a cookie cutter (I used a leaf shape), cut out your shapes and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place tray in the fridge and chill for 30-60 minutes. Remove from the fridge then bake for 10-12 mins or until golden. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Keep the oven on and turn it up to 180°C (350°F) ready for the next step.
- Brush the bacon rashes with maple syrup then lay them on a lined baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes before turning and baking for a further 5 or so minutes until golden and crispy.
- Remove from the oven and lay on paper towel until cool, chop chop into fine bits.
- In a bowl toss your pecans in maple syrup then lay out the pecans on a lined baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking tray. Chop into small pieces and toss through a pinch of flaked sea salt.
- In a medium sized bowl add the butter, maple syrup and icing sugar and whisk until fully combined and smooth. If the glaze is too thin, then add a tablespoon at a time of icing sugar until it reaches the right consistency. If it’s too thick then add a teaspoon of milk until the correct consistency has been reached.
- Dip the face of the cookies into the glaze and gently lift up letting the excess glaze drip off. Sprinkle with candied bacon or candied pecan and then a sprinkle of salt.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.