Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Cookie Time: Mexican Wedding Cakes

This is, hands down, my favorite christmas cookie. I remember when I was little, my grandma (who lived in New York) would send our family (in California) a tin of her cookies, and this cookie was always in it. I can remember rummaging around in the tin looking for one of these little guys. The insides are sandy and crumbly, but, because they are rolled in powdered sugar while still hot, there is a smooth, almost cooling sweetness to the coating on the outside. Made from butter, nuts, sugar and flour, they are pretty simple to make en masse.

Cookie baker's tip: let the hot cookies cool a tiny bit before tossing in the powdered sugar. If they're too hot, they'll fall apart and you'll have to eat the busted ones yourself.

Mexican Wedding Cakes (From Joy of Cooking)

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 lb butter, softened

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 c all purpose flour

1/3 cup powdered sugar, for rolling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.

Toast Nuts: Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, or until lightly brown and fragrant. Cool. Once the nuts have cooled completely place them, along with 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of the flour from the recipe, into your food processor, fitted with a metal blade, and process until they are finely ground (but not a paste).

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and 1/2 c sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the remaining flour and salt and beat until combined. Stir in the nuts. Cover and refrigerate the dough for about one hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Form the chilled dough into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls and place them 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.

Roll the cookies in powdered sugar until coated.

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