Sand Tarts

5 Min Read

The Best Sand Tarts Recipe

If you’ve been around for a little while, you know we’re typically team soft and chewy cookies here at Sugar Spun Run. However, I will make an exception from time to time, especially when nostalgia is involved. And for me, there’s no cookie quite as nostalgic as sand tarts!

A Google search won’t produce too many results for this Pennsylvania Dutch classic, but if you stroll through an Amish market near the Mason Dixon line, you’ll be sure to find these cookies in just about every shape and color. Easily adapted for just about any holiday (although they’re most popular for Christmas and Easter), there are a few qualities about these cookies don’t change: an incredibly buttery flavor, perfectly crisp texture, and impressively thin appearance.

Three things to know about this recipe:

  • These are very thin cookies. You’ll think you can’t roll the dough any thinner, but you really need to try and get it less than ⅛ inch thick for the proper crisp texture.
  • The chill time is long, but it’s necessary. It’s also important to divide the dough into a few parts so you can let the dough you’re not working with stay in the fridge–we want to keep it as cold as possible.
  • Customize them as much as you’d like! Skip the nuts, cut them into fun shapes, use colored sugars, etc. As long as you don’t change the cookie base, you can customize the toppings and shape to your heart’s desire.

What You Need

This recipe is adapted from a sand tart recipe my grandmother gave me. It requires just 8 ingredients–so simple and so good!

  • Butter. We’ll start this recipe by creaming softened butter with granulated sugar. I like to use unsalted butter and add salt myself. If you only have salted butter on hand, follow the conversion in my salted vs. unsalted butter post.
  • Eggs. My grandmother’s original recipe involved separating the egg whites and beating them to stiff peaks. We tried this, but with how dense the dough was, it almost seemed unnecessary. So, we tried again without separately beating the egg whites and were very pleased to find the cookies tasted identical, so we nixed the extra step! Yay for simplicity!
  • Flour. We’re sticking with all-purpose flour for these sand tarts. Make sure you measure your flour properly, or you could end up with thicker cookies (and you already know they should be nice and thin!).
  • Pecans. These are optional, but they do add a nice texture and flavor to the cookies. I typically decorate just some of my sand tarts with pecans, since I also love them with just the egg/cinnamon sugar on top.
  • Cinnamon sugar. This is just a simple mixture of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar. If you have some cinnamon sugar already prepared, feel free to use that here instead of making more for this recipe.

Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!

How to Make Sand Tarts

Make the Dough

  1. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  2. Whisk together the eggs, salt, and vanilla in a separate bowl, then gradually drizzle this mixture into the butter mixture while mixing on low speed. Increase the mixer to high and beat until lightened in color.
  3. Gradually add the flour until fully incorporated, then cover and chill the dough in the fridge overnight.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal pieces, then put three of the pieces back in the fridge. We want to work with one piece of dough at a time.
  5. Dust your work surface with flour, then roll the dough into a very thin sheet (thinner than ⅛”).

Add the Toppings

  1. Cut the dough into circles with a 2 ¼” cookie cutter and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  2. Brush the tops of each cookie with the beaten egg, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  3. Bake for 9-10 minutes at 350F (175C), then remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely, then enjoy!
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