Posted by: Patty | January 19, 2010

Sand Tarts, finally

Adapting recipes seems like a simple task. Just take out the crisco and substitute butter. Or change the type of flour , or even the liquid. Whats the difference?

While trying to improve an old recipe I found that you cannot just swap out ingredients. There was one recipe that I loved from my childhood: sand tarts. But the recipe called for 2 cups of  oleo.
That term is almost unheard of in recipes today but, basically, it means margarine. And I really wanted to use butter. Every attempt to substitute butter made the cookies spread while cooking; the final cookies were too thin and did not brown nicely.I gave up on baking a great Christmas roll out cookie.

But I really missed these cookies so  I  started reading the detailed ingredient information in some of the better baking cookbooks, hoping I could improve the recipe. And I discovered that crisco is 100% fat but, butter is only 80-85% fat.The rest of butter is liquids. You cannot substitute butter for crisco!! You must adjust your recipe for the difference in the amount of moisture.

By changing some measurements I have been able to totally improve the original recipe! But be warned: this recipe makes at least 6 dozen cookies! Which is a big amount, when you consider the preparation of the cookies before they are baked.

Each cookie is brushed with egg white, then a piece of pecan is pressed into the cookie, then you sprinkle a bit of sugar on the cookie, and then you sprinkle a tiny amount of cinnamon on the cookie. THEN you bake them!

And even before you decorate them, you roll the dough and use cookie cutters.

The recipe will yield at least 6 dozen cookies. The amount depends on the size of the cutters. Just don’t use large cutters, these are delicate cookies.

This is the recipe:



5-6 dozen

  • 2 cups unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • Topping
  • 1 egg white, beaten until frothy
  • sanding sugar
  • pecans, chopped
  • cinnamon


Measure the flour by scooping the flour into the cup. Level by sweeping a straight edge across the top.
Cream the butter, salt and sugar. Add the whole egg and yolk, mix well. Add the flour in 3 additions, mix well at a low speed.
Divide into 4 flattened disks and wrap well in saran wrap.
Chill dough overnight.

Roll on a floured silpat and cut with a variety of cookie shapes. Stars and circles are nice.

Arrange cookies on a silpat lined sheet pan. Brush each cookie with egg white, place a small piece of pecan in the center of the cookie. Then sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon and then a generous pinch of sugar on top.

Bake at 400′ for 7-8 minutes. Watch carefully, they burn easily.

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

It can take less than 20 seconds for these to get too brown. WATCH carefully!

These would make nice valentine cookies if cut into heart shapes. consider adding these to your cookie recipes. They are very crisp and very tasty!

Cheers, Patty



  1. Great looking cookies! I learned about the 100% (Crisco) vs 80% (butter) fat thing while reading through Shirley O’Corriher’s latest book, Bakewise. It really helps to know the science behind things. Glad you figured it out 🙂

  2. Good post! I can’t remember if I’ve ever had sand tarts….

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