My mother, Dore Blume, was not only beautiful, but she was smart. She was a trendsetter, a fashion plate and could add 4-digit ledger columns in her head. She raised five children, owned a retail fur shop and later became the buyer/manager of Macy's fur department for 25 years. Shortly after her retirement in 1983 (age 67), our eastside restaurant had only been opened a few months, when our manager decided to relocate without any notice. I called her that morning. "Mother, the manager just quit and you have to come and help me at the restaurant for two weeks. Only two, just until I find a new manager. I have too much to take care of and your the only one who can handle the restaurant." Two weeks turned into ten years. Still not ready to retire, we transferred her to our restaurant at the Whitney Museum to handle the bookkeeping, and finally to our bakery at the Chelsea Market, where she retired at the age of 87— twenty years later. Mother died this past October at the age of 94.
There isn't an item in our bakery that Dore didn't love— and she could tell you every ingredient in each, as well as how much she liked it. These Pecan Moon cookies were her favorite and she ate one or two every day, always with a comment. "These are delicious", sometimes followed by, "it's going to rain today and the cookies are not crisp". This post is a tribute to her, my beloved "cookie", an amazing human being.
Makes about 72 bite-sized cookies
Delicate, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, these moon-shaped pecan shortbreads are one of my most popular creations.
Baker’s Note: The pecans must be ground for the dough. A common problem with grinding nuts is that they can release too much oil. I’ve learned to grind the nuts with a good amount of flour from the recipe, which acts as a buffer and stops them from getting too oily. You will need a 2-inch moon-shaped cookie cutter to make these. Yes, the recipe makes a lot, but they are quite small and disappear quickly.
½ cup (2 ounces) pecan halves
3 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch cubes
½ cup superfine sugar
½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus additional for garnish
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the pecans and 1 cup of the flour until the pecans are very finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining flour and salt and pulse to combine.
2. In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed, beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the superfine sugar and confectioners’ sugar, then the vanilla. Continue beating, occasionally stopping the mixer to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, until the mixture is pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low. In three additions, add the pecan-flour mixture. Mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl.
3. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead briefly until smooth. Dust the work surface and the top of the dough with flour, and roll out into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Using a 2-inch moon-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Transfer them to the pans, placing them ½ inch apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out, and cut out more cookies until all of the dough has been used. Refrigerate the cookies until chilled, about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, position racks in the top third and center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake, switching the position of the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking until lightly browned around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool completely on the baking pans.
5. Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar through a wire sieve over the cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up 5 days.)
, Dore Blume
, pecan moon
, Sarabeth's Bakery