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Photo of pecan shortbreak on a blue plate with coffee granita in little gold bowls surrounding it.
Pecan Polvorones (Pecan Shortbread) with Coffee Granita (photo by Baxter Miller)

Makes 2 dozen cookies | Makes 8 servings

For the granita

3 cups hot brewed coffee

3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon Kahlua (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans

Pinch of salt

1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 envelope Vanilla Sugar by Oetker (optional)

Start the granita the night before you wish to serve it. In a large bowl, combine the hot coffee, sugar, liqueur, and vanilla and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Let the liquid sit at room temperature until cool, about 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture into a large metal pan (9×13-inch works well) and set it in the freezer for 1 hour.

Once the mixture is frozen, scrape it with a fork, forming crystals as you work, and then refreeze it. Repeat this process every 30 minutes, for a total of 8–10 times. The resulting granita should look like fluffy, loose ice crystals. Wrap the granita tightly and leave it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it or overnight. To serve, simply scrape the granita one more time and use.

To make the cookies, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, chopped pecans, and salt and whisk until thoroughly mixed. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Using your hands, mix the ingredients until they come together into a ball. Wrap the dough and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Set the oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Measure 1 tablespoon of dough, roll it into a cylinder, and then gently bend and shape it into a crescent. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for 12–15 minutes or until the bottoms begin to turn a golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 minute.

In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the vanilla sugar. Gently roll the cookies in the powdered sugar to coat. Let the cookies cool completely, and then roll them in the sugar again. Serve a few cookies with a portion of the coffee granita.

Sandra A. Gutierrez, who grew up in the United States and Guatemala, is a food writer, culinary instructor, and recipe developer. She is author of The New Southern-Latino Table: Recipes That Bring Together the Bold and Beloved Flavors of Latin America and the American South. She lives in Cary, North Carolina. Recipe included in Edible North Carolina: A Journey across a State of Flavor (UNC Press), edited by Marcie Cohen Ferris. Read a “Bookmark This” feature on the book.

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