As promised, here is the Pecan Sandies recipe I use. It’s a legacy from my Buffalo family – from hand-written notes shared by my mother-in-law Gail, originally attributed to her cousin. I’ve redacted the recipe a bit to add instructions (the original groups the ingredients in two units and says little more than mix the groups together, roll into balls and bake). This makes a boatload of cookies, with a yield about twice that of most typical cookie recipes. But then again, considering the large families common in Buffalo in the 1960s, I’m not surprised. I have to admit I’ve never counted exactly how many I get beyond “two boxes full” – probably something in the neighborhood of 6-8 dozen depending on cookie size.
A note on ingredients. I buy a bag of raw, unsalted pecan halves for this at Trader Joes. Then I set one of the kids to sorting the pecans. All the unbroken pretty halves go in one bowl. All the broken ones and pieces go in the second. I usually have enough bits and less attractive pieces to furnish the ground pecans needed in the recipe. The pretty halves are reserved as decoration. I usually have enough of those too. If need be, some cookies go bare. Finishing the cookies with pecan halves is another tinker I’ve done to the recipe. They were naked in the original.
Other notes: There is no need to sift the flour for this recipe. I use shortening for these rather than butter. Butter makes the cookies richer but much softer. I get a good baking rhythm going on these using two insulated baking sheets, two cooling racks, and four pieces of parchment. If you don’t want to use baking parchment, you can lightly grease the cookie sheets. But the parchment is worth the investment in ease in batch manipulation and clean-up, plus speed of production (no washing baking pans between batches). You can substitute store-bought ground pecan meal for the finely chopped pecans. Although I haven’t tried it, I suspect you can also make this cookie with almond meal and top with whole almonds, but then you’d have almond sandies…
Sue, I don’t know if we’ve ever met, but thank you for the cookies!
Sue Ralicki’s Pecan Sandies
Makes roughly 6-8 dozen depending on cookie size
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 extra large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4.5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans, ground fine in a food processor
- More granulated sugar to roll cookies in prior to baking
- Pecan halves for garnish
- Two mixing bowls, one for the wet and one for the dry ingredients
- Flexible stirring spatula or mixing spoon
- Hand held mixer (or stand mixer if you’re lucky enough to have one)
- Food processor to grind nuts (alternate method – put them in a ziplock plastic bag and beat them into submission with a meat tenderizer mallet, rolling pin or other heavy object)
- A small bowl or plastic bag to hold the granulated sugar for coating the cookies
- At least one and preferably two flat baking sheets (not lipped jelly roll pans)
- At least one and preferably two racks on which to cool the cookies
- A tin, ziplock bag, or airtight box to store the finished cookies
In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together confectioners sugar, granulated sugar, shortening, and vegetable oil until completely blended. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to incorporate.
In a second bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Pour these dry ingredients into sugar/shortening mixture, stir well to incorporate. Add finely chopped pecans and stir again to ensure everything is mixed together. Chill the dough for about an hour.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375-degrees. Form the dough into balls slightly smaller than a walnut. Roll the balls in granulated sugar to cover. Place them about two inches apart on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment (the cookies will puff up and spread a bit). If you are garnishing each cookie with pecan halves, dip the nut halves in water and press firmly on top of the sugared dough balls on the cookie sheet to make them stick. The balls may crack a bit around the edge. That’s expected.
Bake cookies at 375-degrees for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Slide the cookie-laden parchment sheet onto a rack to cool. Cookies can be stacked in an open box once partially cool, and the parchment sheet can be re-used for a subsequent batch. Once fully cool, store in an airtight box or cookie tin.