Pecan Sablé (Shortbread Cookies)

Note: Both recipes should be made at least a day in advance.

1 1/2 cups pecan halves
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 large egg yolks
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toast pecans on a baking sheet for 10 to 13 minutes, checking frequently, as they can burn quickly. Allow to cool, then roughly chop. Lower oven heat to 325 degrees. In a medium metal mixing bowl, thoroughly cream butter. Then gradually cream in sugar, egg yolks (one at a time), and vanilla. Add flour and salt to form a dough. Fold in toasted pecans. Transfer dough to work surface and flatten into a disk before wrapping in plastic and refrigerating until chilled, about 2 hours. Roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/3-inch thickness. Cut into as many sandwich tops and bottoms as needed. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until pale golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Brown Sugar Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 whole vanilla bean
1 cup packed light
brown sugar
4 egg yolks, beaten
crunchy-style pralines, crumbled


1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) frozen butter, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup pecan halves

Place sugars and milk in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook to soft-ball stage (238 degrees). Remove from heat and stir in frozen butter, vanilla, and pecans. Spread mixture onto a large sheet of parchment paper and let cool. Break into pieces to use in recipe.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine cream, milk, vanilla bean, and brown sugar.

Cook until mixture is hot and sugar has dissolved. Remove vanilla bean. Temper egg yolks into hot mixture and continue to cook until liquid coats a spoon. Refrigerate until completely chilled and then pass through a fine sieve. Freeze in an ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s instructions. Fold the crumbled pralines into the ice cream and store in freezer*.

(*Use Randy Rucker’s praline recipe or use store-bought pralines, about 1 per serving.)

To serve, give guests 2 cookies and a scoop of ice cream each and let them make their own sandwiches (best if ice cream is a little soft). Serves 6 or more.