1 cup chilled butter, cut into chunks
1 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup coarse sugar (optional)
36 pecan halves
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. After butter has melted, adjust heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly (it will be foamy) with a high-heat rubber spatula.
Add chopped pecans and cook 1 minute longer. Transfer butter-pecan mixture to a large bowl. Cool about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile heat oven to 350 degrees and cut parchment paper for 3 baking sheets.
After butter-pecan mixture has cooled add powdered sugar, brown sugar, half-and-half, vanilla and salt. Mix until smoothly incorporated, then stir in flour. If mixture is too dry to form balls, add one more tablespoon of half-and-half.
Roll dough into 1" balls. If desired, roll ball in decorative coarse sugar.
Place 12 balls on each parchment-lined baking sheet, then press a pecan half firmly into each. If the edges crack, push the cookie back together with your fingers.
Bake cookies for 11 minutes, just until the edges start to brown. Then slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack.
Store at room temperature up to 10 days. Freeze up to 2 months.