Every year my mom and I bake what seems like an endless amount of Christmas cookies to send to friends and family. We always bake our staple cookies and make a few new ones to spice things up for everyone.
We always make sure to send everyone an equal number of each cookie, but my grandma gets a few more of one cookie in particular -- pecan sandtarts. It's not Christmas without these cookies and fruit cake for my grandma.
My mom got this recipe out of the Joy of Cooking cookbook. You can tell we've used it so many times when the book naturally opens to that page.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with pecan sandtarts (or sandies, as some may call them), they are buttery cookies with finely chopped pecans that are covered in powdered sugar. Think of a powdered sugar donut, but instead of a soft cake texture under all the sugary goodness, there is a crunchy cookie that melts instantly in your mouth.
Many people shape their pecan sandtarts like flat discs, but my mom and I like to make either crescent shapes or small balls.
The first step is to cream one cup of butter, 1/2 cup of sugar and one teaspoon of vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Once all of these ingredients are fully incorporated, add two cups of all-purpose flour and one cup of finely chopped pecans. You want the pecans to be teeny tiny so they look like specs in the cookie, like shells in the sand at the beach.
Roll the dough into small balls, or into logs and curve the ends to make a crescent. Bake on a cookie sheet in a 325-degree oven for about 20 minutes. The cookies will turn golden brown when they are done.
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Let the cookies slightly cool after they bake, then roll in powdered sugar. My mom and I make sure they are completely covered in powdered sugar -- simply dusting is not enough.
One bite of these delicious buttery and sugary cookies, and you'll see exactly why my grandma requests more in her box of Christmas cookies each year.