Monday, November 2, 2015

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbreads from Victoria Hamilton!

A very warm welcome to our friend Victoria Hamilton. Victoria writes the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, the Merry Muffin Mysteries, and the Teapot Collector Mysteries. 

WHITE COLANDER CRIME, her most recent book, will be in bookstores everywhere tomorrow! Perfectly timed for the holidays, it takes place during a Dickens Days Festival!

Don't miss out on another one of Victoria's amazing giveaways. It includes books and a tote! Scroll to the bottom for the super easy instructions to enter.

I was raised in a working class home by a assistant nurse mother and welder/philosopher father. We never went without, but life wasn’t lavish. When I moved out, working in retail and then a factory, I was quite poor, just getting by most of the time. It was a gift, really. Some difficult years made me appreciate the relative comfort of today, and I never forget it.

Baking supplies were seldom on the grocery list. Who can afford real butter and chocolate chips on a barely-scraping-by budget? However… I always had brown sugar and flour in the house. One day we had company, an older acquaintance. I made brown sugar cookies; not shortbread, I’m sure, because I would have used margarine, not butter. He raved about them! They reminded him, he said, of the cookies of his childhood. It made me feel so good that he liked them, and I’ve never forgotten that sometimes, simple is… simply wonderful.  

These are not the same recipe, but they’re close, and perhaps even better for the addition of pecans. These, then, are my Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbreads. They are buttery and crisp, good with tea and great for every day, or the holiday season!

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ cup finely chopped pecans (you’ll need almost 2/3 cup whole for ½ cup chopped)
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (I added this, though it is not necessary, but the hint of spice is nice!)
½ tsp vanilla extract (optional)
Coarse Sugar for decorating (optional)

1 – Preheat oven to 350
2 – Line cookie sheet with baking parchment.
3 – Stir flour with salt and pumpkin spice in medium bowl.
4 – Chop pecans quite fine.
5 – Beat butter with sugar in large bowl with electric beater until blended.
6 – Gradually stir in half flour mixture until well blended, then add remaining flour and knead lightly with hands until blended… do not over knead!
7 – Roll out on a floured surface until ¼ inch thick.
8 – Use cookie cutter, or cut into diamonds or rectangles with sharp knife. You can make fork indentations on them if you like, so they look like classic shortbread cookies. Lift carefully onto baking sheet
9 - Bake for 12 – 14 minutes – don’t over bake! They should be a light golden brown. Cool slightly and move to plate.

Cookies will keep well in an airtight container for up to a week, and can be frozen.

Shortbread ingredients.

Mixing shortbread.

Cutting shortbread.

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbreads

Photos: the cookie cutter is vintage, the teapot is new red transferware, and the cookie plate is vintage unmarked red transferware, just like in the book and on the cover of White Colander Crime. The teacup, part of my collection, is vintage Wedgwood, Covent Garden pattern, though I’ve never seen one with this particular style of saucer.

About the book:
In the new Vintage Kitchen Mystery from the author of No Mallets Intended, the Heritage Society is re-creating a perfect Victorian Christmas—until good tidings go bad...

Queensville has great expectations for their Dickens Days festival. A tourist-trade boom means a big turnout for the opening of Queensville Historic Manor and for Jaymie Leighton, food columnist and vintage cookware collector, a chance to promote the manor and give away homemade goodies.  At the end of a long day of festival fun, Jaymie discovers the battered body of local woman Shelby Fretter.

Shelby predicted her own murder in journal entries—and all clues point to Cody Wainwright, the troubled son of Jaymie’s beleaguered newspaper editor. But considering the entire Fretter family had its share of dirty secrets, Jaymie’s not convinced  by the case against Cody. With twists all over, she’s going to have to work like the Dickens to wrap up this investigation before Christmas—especially with the real killer ready to kill again.


You can find Victoria online:
Victoria Hamilton Mysteries:
Twitter: - or - @MysteryVictoria


Comment for a chance to win this (pictured) super prize package including:
Books… White Colander Crime, Death of an English Muffin and Shadow of a Spout!
A Cozy up to a good mystery! book tote, watercolor pencils, tea and more!

Canadian and US entries welcome. Contest runs November 2nd to Midnight, November 5th. Please comment with your email address, eg: yournname (at) yourserver (dot) com.