Makes about 4 dozen
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, for rolling
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking liner or parchment paper. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add the flour, pecans, and salt, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended. Using a small ice cream scoop, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place 11/2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until the bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. While still warm, roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar until evenly coated. Transfer to a wire rack set on top of a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container.
James Beard Foundation Award-winner Virginia Willis has made cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraged for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvested capers in Sicily, and beguiled celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Bill Clinton, and Julie Chrisley with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. She is the author of Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. She’s been seen on Food Network, CBS This Morning, and Fox and Friends and featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Eater, and Food52. She has contributed to Eating Well, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. Her fans love her foolproof recipes and down-to-earth attitude. Learn more at www.virginiawillis.com.
Reprinted with permission from Virginia Willis, copyright (c) 2019. Photography by Virginia Willis.