Food: Spicy Pecan Squares bring back memories of Mom

Kate Lawson

I should have known better. I made the mistake of mentioning my favorite Christmas cookie recipe then proceeded to write about another equally delicious sweet. The reason is that I’m pretty sure I’d already mentioned my mother’s recipe for Spicy Pecan Squares but that was probably years ago. Suddenly my inbox was filled with requests that I print that recipe.

I make these cookies every year – even from the time I was still a surly teen living at home – and my family and I love them still. They are easy enough for the novice baker and don’t require any fancy ingredients or icing. In fact, I still have the recipe card with her writing that brings back wonderful memories of her. I have discovered over the years, however that it is easier to press the batter into the pan using a flat-bottomed measuring cup or glass.

I’m sure that by now you’ve finished all your holiday baking (or maybe you’re like me and still have a recipe or two you want to make) but if you are so inclined, this is an easy shortbread recipe that will be a hit on the sweets table.

So, for all of you who wrote to admonish and enjoin me, here is the recipe for my mother’s Spicy Pecan Squares. I hope that every one has a very, merry holiday.

Kate Lawson is a retired Detroit News food writer. You can reach her at


1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg, separated

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup finely chopped pecans

Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and egg yolk. Beat until light and fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients and add to butter mixture with half the nuts; mix well. Press into greased cookie sheet, (15x10x1- inch or smaller) . Brush top with lightly beaten egg white (foamy). Sprinkle the rest of nuts on top. Bake in 350 degree oven 20-25 minutes. Cool. Cut into squares. Makes 3 dozen squares.

Per serving: 115 calories; 7g fat; 3g saturated fat; 55 percent fat; 12 carbohydrates; 6g sugar; 19 cholesterol; 37 sodium; 1 protein; 0.3g fiber