Back in November, I found a recipe for Hazelnut Polvorones- which are similar to Mexican Wedding Cookies-but this recipe contained no flour. Instead, it called for all cornstarch -which produced this amazing melt-in-your-mouth quality. But I wanted to work with other nuts and flavorings, so I started making variants. After consistent trial and error, I came up with a successful recipe for these Lemon Pecan Polvorones (and others I have posted.)
Because the experiments sometimes came out too crumbly, I substituted a little flour for cornstarch, to give a little more structure to the dough. This basic recipe is not a flexible one in one respect. If you omit the brandy (yes, only 2 T.!) the cookies fall apart when you try to remove them from the cookie sheet. Who would think 2T. of liquid would make such a huge difference? But it does. And I finally figured out why. That 2T is needed to bond the dough together, to give the cookies structure, as in a pie crust dough. I haven't tried substituting any other liquid for brandy, but I would think orange juice or bourbon might work in its place. In my experiments, I also found that chilling helps with 2 steps: chilling the dough makes it easier to form the balls without them getting greasy; and baking the balls after chilling them- results in a cookie that has a nice domed shape rather than a flat one.
I used True Lemon in this recipe because I had run out of lemons for zesting. (and I had bought some but never tried it.) Because I didn't want more liquid (lemon juice) in the recipe, I found the True Lemon worked out really well. I was surprised, but It was a good replacement for lemon zest . I really dislike lemon oil and can always taste it, but the True Lemon didn't have any fake flavor. I like the texture and shape of these polvorones- they are small domed melt-in-your mouth, with a robust tart lemon flavor and the nuttiness of pecans. If ,like me, you have a love of anise, you might enjoy adding that as well. —LE BEC FIN