Sheet Pan

LEMON PECAN POLVORONES

February 21, 2013
Author Notes

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

  • Makes 48
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup demerara/ 'raw sugar', ground to powder*
  • 2 lemons' zest
  • 2 cups shelled raw pecans
  • 1 7/8 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons 'white whole wheat' or spelt flour
  • 8 packets " True Lemon"
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut up into 8 chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons brandy
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • optional 1 Tablespoon anise seeds, crushed
  • confectioners sugar for dusting
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. In a small food processor, grind the lemon zest into the sugar.In another processor, pulse and grind pecans with 1/4 cup of the cornstarch- til fine. Add the rest of the cornstarch , flour, and Salt and pulse to combine thoroughly, using a knife to free up the bottom corner of the mixture.Pulse in the sugar lemon zest . Add butter and pulse to combine.(Optional anise would be added now.*) Combine vanilla through brandy and add while pulsing . When dough is just starting to come together, but before mixture gets creamy and clumps together, pour out into a 9" square pan (or 8 or 10" square pan; it doesn't need to be buttered) , spread to even thickness and smooth the top with a metal spatula. Cover and refrigerate .Allow an hour to thoroughly chill and firm up. Score and cut into a grid that is 8 by 6 squares .
  2. Run a metal spatula under the cubes; lift sections of them and roll each cube into a ball, adding to or removing from them to get them all about the same size. Return to square pan and chill 1/2 hour in refrig .
  3. Place 2" apart on parchment or silpat- lined cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 17-20 minutes til lightly browned on the edges ,and sweet nutty smell is indicating their doneness. Remove pan to rack. Cool 1/2 hour. Transfer to another sheet pan or container, placing shoulder to shoulder. Sift heavy layer of confectioners sugar over them. Store in airtight container.
  4. * It is important to grind whatever sugar you use into a powder so the cookies don't have any crunchy texture in them. You want them to be 'Melt in your mouth.'
  5. ** When I want more variety in one batch, i will divide the dough and add 1/2 Tablespoon of the anise to half of it, by hand, pressing it into the square pan to make roughly half the pan lemon anise and half just lemon.
  6. Note: In the freezer I store lightly scored (not cut) saran- wrapped dough pieces(takes up the least space this way) or rolled balls, and later, bake as needed.

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  • LE BEC FIN
    LE BEC FIN
  • ChefJune
    ChefJune
Review
I am always on the lookout for innovative recipes, which is why I am just ga-ga over my recently- discovered Food52 with its amazingly innovative and talented contributors. My particular eating passions are Japanese, Indian, Mexican; with Italian and French following close behind. Turkish/Arabic/Mediterranean cuisines are my latest culinary fascination. My desert island ABCs are actually 4 Cs: citrus, cumin, cilantro, and cardamom. I am also finally indulging in learning about food history; it gives me no end of delight to learn how and when globe artichokes came to the U.S., and how and when Jerusalem artichokes went from North America to Europe. And that the Americas enabled other cuisines to become glorious. I mean where would those countries be without: Corn, Tomatoes, Chiles,Peanuts, Dried Beans, Pecans, Jerusalem Artichokes??! While I am an omnivore, I am, perhaps more than anything, fascinated by the the world of carbohydrates, particularly the innovative diversity of uses for beans, lentils and grains in South Indian and other cuisines. Baking gives me much pleasure, and of all the things I wish would change in American food, it is that we would develop an appreciation for sweet foods that are not cloyingly sweet, and that contain more multigrains. (Wouldn't it be fantastic to have a country of great bakeries instead of the drek that we have in the U.S.?!) I am so excited by the level of sophistication that I see on Food52 and hope to contribute recipes that will inspire you like yours do me. I would like to ask a favor of all who do try a recipe of mine > Would you plse write me and tell me truthfully how it worked for you and/or how you think it would be better? I know many times we feel that we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, but. i really do want your honest feedback because it can only help me improve the recipe.Thanks so much.