1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted, divided
¼ teaspoon fine-grain salt
Zest of 1 very large or 2 small lemons
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 drop yellow food coloring (optional)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly toasted pecans, finely chopped in a food processor
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add ½ cup of the powdered sugar, then beat well. Add the salt, lemon zest and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add the food coloring, if using. A little at a time, beat in the flour just until mixed.
Add the nuts, using a silicone spatula to stir them in. Place the dough in a small bowl or a plastic bag and chill for 30-60 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 the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl.
Once the dough has chilled, divide it into ½-inch balls. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between them. Bake on the center rack for 10-12 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.
Makes 3½ dozen cookies.
Nutrition values per cookie: 90 calories, 6 g fat (3 g saturated), 8 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 4 g sugar, 1 g protein, 10 mg cholesterol, 15 mg sodium.