Mexican Wedding Cookies

December 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

… also known as Russian Tea Cakes, and referred to by my mother as Pecan Drops.  It has more names than any other cookie I know of; one of my friends tells me that there’s a Greek version as well.  Whatever you call it, it’s always been one of my absolute favorite Christmas cookies, and when I found a recipe for them on Smitten Kitchen, there was nothing that would stop me from making these delectable, shortbread-y, slightly nutty, slightly sweet spheres of awesome.

Also, I have decided to give them a new name.

Nut Shortbread Cookies of Ambiguous Ethnic Origin
(original recipe here)
1 c butter
2 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1 c ground or very finely chopped nuts (my tradition is pecans and I absolutely love them in this, but you can use almonds, walnuts, or most any other nut of your choice. I’d love to try these with macadamia nuts at some point!)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon (optional, but it adds a lovely, subtle layer of flavor)

Beat the butter in a large bowl, until it’s light and fluffy.  An electric mixer is useful for this: I usually opt for brute strength, but it would have taken much longer and much more elbow grease had I gone that route.  Add 1/2 c of the powdered sugar, as well as the vanilla, and beat until combined.  Then add the flour and chopped/ground nuts, and beat again until well combined.  Your dough will be buttery and crumbly.

perfectly crumbly

Divide the dough in half and form each half into a ball.  Wrap the balls in saran wrap and chill them for about 30 minutes.

pre-chilling

Preheat your oven to 350.  Start with one ball of dough and form it into small balls, maybe 2-3 tsp worth.  I found that pressing the dough between my palms worked better for shaping it than straight-out rolling it, since it’s very crumbly and tends to crack easily.

Place your dough balls on a baking sheet: they don’t rise or expand much so you don’t need to leave a whole lot of space between them.  That said, I only got 12-15 cookies out of each ball (mine may have been slightly bigger than Deb’s…), so I didn’t really need to scrunch them together.

pre-baking

Bake the cookies for about 18 minutes.  They’ll be golden on the bottom and very pale golden on top.  While they’re baking, mix the rest of the powdered sugar and the cinnamon, if you’re using it, in a small bowl.  When there are only a few minutes left before they’re done, you can also pull out the second half of the dough and form that into soon-to-be cookies, if you have a second baking sheet.

post-baking

When the cookies come out, let them cool for only five minutes at most, and then gently roll them in the powdered sugar/cinnamon mix so they’re fully covered.  Set them on a rack to cool fully.  Repeat with the second batch, when they’re finished baking.

powdered sugar glaze

Enjoy as soon as they’ve cooled enough to eat!

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