The venerable rum butter nut

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This is my absolute favorite holiday cookie. It’s a rich shortbread bite with pecans, butterscotch bits and a light rum-laced icing. Come December, radio stations can ring out holiday music and stores can deck the halls all they want, but for me, it isn’t Christmas until my first flaky bite of a rum butter nut cookie. Those who know me will probably chalk it up to the rum. Those who know me even better will know that on their own, I’m not a particular fan of any of the cookie’s main ingredients—even the rum. But, combine them and something miraculous happens.

I have absolutely no idea where the original recipe came from. My mom’s version is written on a pink card stock note card.  It’s so old that it calls for a margarine-like substance called Oleo. I have no idea if the stuff exists anymore which doesn’t matter because I’ve always just used butter.

I will warn you that this tends to be a polarizing cookie. People either really love it. Or don’t. To those who don’t, I say “more for me,”

The dough, once mixed, will be crumbly. Back in the dark ages, I used to form my own balls. Now I use a one-ounce scooper. The result is that mine come out as domes–not balls. I happen to be okay with this geometric configuration. If you are not, form the dough into balls of your desired size.

Go ahead and line them up on the cookie sheet in close proximity. Like any shortbread, they won’t expand during the baking process. You’ll know they are done when the bottoms are a light golden brown.

But wait, there’s more. Once completely cooled, these little nuggets get a nice bath in icing made of rum and confectioner’s sugar (you can always replace the rum with water).

The result? Pure cookie perfection.

Rum Butter Nut Cookies

Preheat over to 325 degrees

Makes about 5 dozen 1.5” balls

Cookies

  • 1.5 C butter, softened
  • 1 C confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ½ t. salt
  • 3.5 C flour, sifted
  • 12 oz butterscotch chips
  • 2 C pecans

Glaze

  • 2 C confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ¼ C light rum (or water)

With a standing or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift salt and flour together. With mixer on low, add in flour mixture until dough just comes together. By hand, mix in chips and pecans. Shape into 1-1.5” balls (I use a 1 ounce scooper). Space evenly on parchment covered cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are just starting to brown.

Let cool completely.

Mix up glaze to desired consistency. Glaze cookies. Tip: Once glaze, I set them on a cooling rack to let the excess glaze drip off.

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