This is one of Marie’s great recipes for Christmas cookies.
Ingredients for the Shortbread base:
1 1/2 cups flour
¾ cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
Heat the oven to 300ºF.
Mix the flour, butter and sugars using an electric mixer. It will form a uniform dough when it is well blended. Press the mixture into a lightly buttered oblong rectangular baking dish, 9x13x2 inches. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn the baking dish around so the front of the baking dish faces the back of the oven (this ensures even baking in case your oven is less than perfect). Bake for 20 more minutes and see if the shortbread base is a light tan. If it is, remove the baking dish to a wood cutting board, otherwise bake for five more minutes. Then, keep the shortbread base baking dish in a warm 150º F oven until you are ready to use the caramel nut mixture described below.
Once the caramel nut mixture is made, immediately pour it over the top of the shortbread, spread it evenly with a knife, especially the chopped pecans, and allow it to cool to room temperature. Then cut the final layered product into squares about 1½ inch by 1½ inch.
Ingredients for the Caramel Nut topping: (Caramel recipe from The Joy of Cooking©)
1/4 lb. of butter
1 cup of light brown sugar
¼ cup of dark corn syrup
¼ cup of light corn syrup
½ cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla
½ cup of chopped pecans
Directions for the Caramel Nut topping:
Put the butter, sugar and corn syrups into a heavy saucepan.
Heat on medium heat, stirring until the sugar crystals are dissolved.
Use a candy thermometer and continue to heat the mixture on low heat until it reaches a temperature of 240ºF. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cream.
Turn the heat to medium and return the saucepan to the heat. Stir gently until the mixture again reaches 240 ºF. This may take ten to fifteen minutes. Be patient.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Then stir in the chopped pecans.
Put the shortbread baking dish on a wood cutting board.
Use the caramel nut mixture immediately per the earlier directions for putting the topping on the shortbread base.
Let the baking dish contents cool to room temperature.
When the dish is cool cut the product into 1½" by 1½" squares.
Store these cookies in a sealed container with waxed paper between layers to keep them fresh and to avoid having them stick to each other.