Chef Johnny Iuzzini
Chef Johnny is the winner of the 2006 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef and author of SUGAR RUSH. He is an avid motorcyclist and globe trotter. Read more about Chef Johnny Iuzzini's culinary creations.
"The holidays just aren't the same without the delicious smell of pecans toasting in the oven.”
- 1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced (286 g)
- ¾ cup sugar (150 g)
- 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature, plus more for glazing
- ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
- ¼ teaspoon orange extract
- 3⅓ cups all-purpose fl our, plus more for rolling (417 g)
- 6 ounces pecans, toasted and finely ground (175 g)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (4 g)
- Pecan halves, for garnish
To toast the nuts, spread them out in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 350°F oven, shaking the pan several times to turn the nuts, for 12 to 15 minutes or until flavor intensifies and the nuts reach a deep golden brown. Cool completely before using. Grind them coffee grinder or crush and chomp until fine.
Put the butter and sugar into a standing mixer bowl and toss with your fingers until the butter is coated. Attach the bowl and paddle to the mixer and beat the butter and sugar on medium-low speed until a thick paste forms with no visible butter lumps.
Whisk the egg yolks, lemon extract, and orange extract together. With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle the yolk mixture into the butter and mix until well combined. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
In a bowl, whisk together the fl our, ground pecans, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter and mix just until combined. Do not overmix. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of parchment paper; press with the spatula to an even layer about 1 inch thick. Lightly dust the surface with flour and lay another sheet of parchment on top of it. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough, flipping it several times in the parchment on the work surface, to an even ¼-inch thickness. Slide the dough onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour or covered for up to 1 week.
Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Using a lightly floured 2-inch round cutter, cut cookies out of the rolled dough and arrange them ½ inch apart on the lined baking sheets. (Alternatively, you can cut them into squares or rectangles with a knife.) If the dough has thawed, briefly freeze the cookies before baking. Continue rerolling and cutting cookies until the dough has been used up. Freeze until ready to bake or covered for up to 1 week.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Brush the surface of the cookies with beaten egg yolk and position a pecan half on top of each cookie if desired. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until light golden. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.