16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed until it is smooth. Turn off the mixer a few times so you can scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and nuts. Continue mixing until the dough looks like moist pebbles, then turn off the mixer.
2. Gently squeeze the dough together with your hands. When the dough comes together in a mass, place it on a large piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands, shape it into a log 10 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the log in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.
3. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil.
4. Unwrap the dough and place it on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into slices 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices about 1 inch apart on the foil-lined baking sheets. Place 1 baking sheet in the oven and bake the cookies until their edges are golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the second and then the third baking sheets.
5. Lift the cooled cookies off the baking sheets with your fingers. Store the cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 40 cookies.