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Article posted: 3/27/2013 6:00 AM

Delicate, lemony cookie to set the mood for Easter

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For most people, Easter means it's time for chocolate bunnies and colored eggs. And while those things are fine, for me this season is about all things lemon.

I usually make lemon bars that are tart and refreshing, more lemon than egg. But 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 I find is a perfect balance to the richness of the butter and the pecans.

If you want an even bigger burst of lemon, you can add a 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.

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