For most people, Easter is time for chocolate bunnies and colored eggs.
While those things are fine, for me this season is about lemon.
I usually make lemon bars that are tart and refreshing, more lemon than egg.
This year I decided to riff on one of my favorite cookies, the Mexican wedding cookie, also known as the Russian tea cake, pecan butterballs, snowballs, and many other names. Regardless of what you call them, these much-loved powdered sugar-coated cookies tend to be made mostly around the Christmas holidays.
But the delicious simplicity of these treats begs for a burst of lemon, and by adding a healthy dose of lemon zest, these nutty shortbread-like cookies become a “lemon wedding cookie.” The zest adds a delicate lemon flavor that is a perfect balance to the richness of the butter and the pecans.
If you want an even bigger burst of lemon, add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract to the dough and 1 teaspoon of unsweetened lemon-aid mix to the powdered sugar used to coat the cookies.
You also can add a drop or two of yellow food coloring to make the cookies yellow and more in keeping with Easter colors.
If you make them small and oval instead of round, they even look a little like miniature eggs.
The recipe also is easy to adapt to other nuts, and other flavors, even chocolate (adding about 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the dough and substituting orange zest for the lemon). The cookie dough is so easy to make that you could whip up several variations for Easter brunch, or make it even easier on yourself and serve ham sandwiches and these cookies and call it an Easter tea.
Lemon wedding cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted, divided
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain salt??
Zest of 1 very large or 2 small lemons
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 drop yellow food coloring (optional)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly toasted pecans, finely chopped in a food processor or nut chopper
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar, then beat well. Add salt, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add food coloring, if using. A little at a time, beat in the flour just until mixed.
Use a silicone spatula to stir in nuts. Place dough in a small bowl or a plastic bag and chill for 30 to 60 minutes, or place in the freezer for about 15 minutes. At this stage, the dough also can be frozen for up to 1 month.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
Once the dough has chilled, divide into 1/2-inch balls. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between them. Bake on the center rack for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are set on top and lightly golden on the bottom.
Let the cookies cool for 2 to 3 minutes on the cookie sheet. A few at a time, place the cookies in the bowl of powdered sugar and toss gently to coat well. Transfer the coated cookies to a rack to cool completely. Once cool, repeat the coating process with the bowl of powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.
Servings • 3 1/2 dozen
Source: Associated Press