We have a Christmas Cookie list. The number of recipients varies from year to year, and yes – you can fall off the list! (Tell me you’re on a diet during the holidays and you’re as good as scratched!) This adventure started innocently enough. When Emily was in the second grade she came home from school with her list of friends for which a Christmas gift was required. There were 14 names on it. As a single Mom juggling two jobs to make ends meet, coming up with extra resources for an additional 14 gifts was daunting, actually it was impossible!
Not wanting to shatter the Christmas spirit I suggested we bake cookies for each of her friends. Who wouldn’t be happy to receive homemade cookies for Christmas! And so it began and still continues. For a long period of time our list was quite extensive. Emily had high school classmates. Then there were newly formed friends from Auburn in addition to the former classmates from high school that required baked goods. And then I had friends and work colleagues. We made hundreds. Every year!
We only make our favorites and some years these cookies are only made during the holidays or perhaps Valentine’s Day. This cookie was one of my Dad’s favorites. Buttery, sweet with toasted pecans and a tender crumb, baked then dusted with snowy powdered sugar.
The list of ingredients is short and basic. Sand Tarts get their flavor from real butter, powdered sugar (inside and out!), pure vanilla extract and toasted chopped pecans. The dough comes together quickly and no chilling is required.
They have the look of the holidays and taste a bit like heaven! Hard to decide if it’s a cookie or a confection… Either way, they’re quite wonderful!
1 cup butter, room temperature
10 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus 1 cup for finishing the cookies
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon water
1 cup chopped toasted pecans.
Cream the butter on medium speed of your mixer until it is light and fluffy.
Add the powdered sugar and blend it in on low speed.
In a small bowl whisk the kosher salt and the flour together.
Add the flour, a cup at a time and blend into the butter and sugar using low speed.
Add the vanilla extract and the water. Toss in the toasted pecans and blend together on low speed until the pecans and dough are mixed together.
Using a small ice cream scoop or a teaspoon, gathering up the dough and gently roll to create balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Place on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.
Bake the Sand Tarts at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies are lightly golden in color.
Let them cool slightly then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
Once the cookies are completely cool roll them in the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar. Store in a tightly sealed container.
Makes about 40-42 cookies.