Cocoa Nib Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Have I mentioned before that Alice Medrich is one of my favorite cookbook authors? She focuses on desserts– chocolate specifically– and her book “Bittersweet” was one of the first cookbooks I ever made a point of buying. It’s full of great recipes for both standard and unorthodox uses of chocolate, and introduced me to cocoa nibs.

What are cocoa nibs? They’re roasted cacao beans– the base ingredient of chocolate– so they have a toasty chocolate flavor, but none of the sweetness of processed chocolate. They’re kind of like a cross between chocolate and nuts when used in cookies. This shortbread recipe combines cocoa nibs with pecans, both of which make for a subtle but flavorful cookie.

I admit that I gilded the lily a bit and sandwiched my cookies with a ring of chocolate ganache and a salted butter caramel center. The ganache actually overpowered the caramel a bit, but overall the effect was decadent.

Cocoa Nib Pecan Cookies

1 cup (3.5 oz) pecan halves/pieces

8 oz. unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. bourbon

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup cocoa nibs

2 cups flour

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for about 7 minutes, until they smell toasty. Let cool, then chop into small pieces (about 1/4″).
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, combine butter, sugar, salt, bourbon, and vanilla. eat until smooth and creamy, but not fluffy.
  3. Add pecans and cocoa nibs and mix to combine.
  4. Add flour all at once and slowly mix until incorporated.
This is a triple batch of dough!

5. Form dough into a 2″ log and wrap in parchment paper. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.

6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line two cookie sheets with foil or parchment.

7. Slice 1/4″ cookies off of log and arrange about 1.5″ apart on sheet.

8. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until edges turn golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for a minute or two before removing to racks to cool.

I served some of these plain, but as I mentioned above, also sandwiched some with chocolate ganache and salted butter caramel. The chocolate kept the caramel from oozing out the edges.

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