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Toasted Piñon Shortbread

Toasted Piñon Shortbread
The piñon (Pinus edulis) pine grows profusely on the public lands of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado. Extracted from its cones, the plump nuts, called piñons, have a richer and more resinous flavor than that of imported pine nuts from the Mediterranean and are about half their size. They are enjoyed in all manner of sweets, including these simple, buttery cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup piñon nuts or other pine nuts
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground canela or 1 1/2 tsp.
      ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into
      tablespoon-size pieces

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, nuts, canela and salt. Pulse 10 times to combine the ingredients and to coarsely chop the nuts. Add the butter and process until the mixture just comes together into a ball. (At this point, the dough may be wrapped with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough about 1/2 inchthick. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Place the cutouts on the baking sheet. Gather the scraps, reroll, and cut out more cookies until the dough is used up. Transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator or freezer to chill for 1 hour. (At this point, the cookies may be frozen on the tray, then transferred to a sealable plastic bag; they will keep frozen for up to 1 month.)

Bake the cookies, in batches, until slightly puffed and firm but not browned, about 45 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack and let cool completely.
Makes about 30 cookies.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New American Cooking Series, The Southwest, by Kathi Long (Time-Life Books, 2001).