When my favorite Christmas tree decorator hinted he would accept some kind of lemon-flavored Christmas cookies as payment, I had my working orders. I surprised him with lemon thumbprints last year but wanted something different this year, of course. My tradition-following gene is apparently mutated.
I went to one of my favorite cookie cookbooks, Great Cookies by Carole Walter, and started with her recipe for Snowballs. We called them Mexican wedding cookies when I was growing up.
For lemon flavor, I added 1 teaspoon of lemon oil. I prefer the oil (available at health food stores or specialty grocers like Whole Foods) over lemon extract for a brighter, more natural but intense lemon flavor. If you like, substitute 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel for a milder hint of lemon even non-lemon lovers will enjoy.
Christmas cookies = extra trouble in my dictionary. So I set about to streamline the process of sugar-coating the cookies. Try it yourself or stick with the old-fashioned way which is pressing each cookie, one at a time, into a bowl of powdered sugar, twice on each side. (I’ll admit the latter method has its benefits. All that individual attention usually produces more broken cookies, unsuitable for anybody but the baker to eat.)
Offload baked cookies upside down onto a cooling rack set over a piece of waxed paper.
Sprinkle top side for the second time using a sieve full of powdered sugar.
Thank-you to each of you in 2012 for your thoughtful comments, your (sometimes challenging) questions, and your continued encouragement. May God bless you with good eats and good memories during this time of celebrating Jesus Christ, our Savior.
P.S. If you make one of my recipes over the holidays and have a question, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line or leave a comment. I will try to answer ASAP. paula
- 1-1/4 cups pecans
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon oil (or 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel for milder lemon flavor)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Using a food processor with a metal blade, finely chop pecans along with ¼ cup of flour. Pulse 3 or 4 times, then process steadily for about 8 seconds.
- Add remaining flour and salt to pecans and again, pulse a few times until combined.
- Add room-temperature butter to large bowl and beat with mixer on medium-low until light and creamy.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and add 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, water, vanilla, and lemon oil.
- Add chopped pecan-flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 portions, mixing just until combined. Don't overwork.
- Press dough into a ball, wrap well, and chill at least 30 minutes.
- Make tablespoon-size balls and place onto lined (parchment paper or silicone mat) cookie sheets. Leave them as balls, if desired, or slightly flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar.
- Bake in preheated, 325-degree F oven 20-25 minutes or until the bottom starts to brown.
- Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Offload baked cookies upside down onto a cooling rack set over a piece of waxed paper.
- While still warm, sprinkle with powdered sugar using a sieve.
- Flip them, and sprinkle top side with powdered sugar.
- Allow cookies to cool completely.
- Sprinkle top side for the second time using a sieve of powdered sugar.
- Move rack off of waxed paper and press each cookie into the remaining sugar on the waxed paper so now the bottom also has two coats.(Sugar will melt a little in the beginning, thus requiring more than one coat.)
- Store in airtight container between layers of wax paper.