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Pecan-Lemon Shortbread Hearts w/ Vanilla Sugar

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Why I Love This Recipe

"These pretty, delicate cookies are perfect with coffee or as the finish to a romantic meal. Cut them into any shape you like and sprinkle with vanilla sugar to liven them up. It is fun to use several sizes of cutters, too."

Ingredients You'll Need

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 Tb. plus 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. pecans
vanilla sugar, optional


Preheat oven to 350º.

In food processor fitted with metal blade, combine flour, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt. Process briefly 'til well mixed. Add butter and vanilla and, using rapid off-on pulses, cut in 'til mixture resembles fine meal. Add pecans and process 'til finely chopped.

Transfer mixture to lrg. sheet of waxed paper and gather together into flat disk. Top with second sheet of waxed paper. Roll out dough 1/4". Using 3" or 11/2" heart-shaped cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them 1/2" apart. Gather up scraps, roll out again and cut out addtional cookies. Sprinkle cookies with vanilla sugar, if desired.

Bake 'til just beginning to color, about 20 min. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 min. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temp for up to 1 week.

Makes about 2 dozen 3" cookies.

Vanilla Sugar

1 1/2 vanilla beans

2 c. granulated sugar

Cut vanilla beans into 1 1/2" lengths. Place in food processor fitted with metal blade or in blender and process. Add 1/2 c. sugar and process 'til vanilla beans are finely chopped. Add remaining 1 1/2 c. sugar and process 'til thoroughly incorporated.

Strain sugar through fine-mesh sieve to remove any lrg. pieces of vanilla bean. Store in airtight container.

Makes about 2 cups

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