The beginning of December isn’t quite the start to the holidays without Mexican Wedding Cakes. Or, at least for me. I think my mom would agree with this statement. She makes them almost every year. Oh, and my friends Katherine, Michelle and Kesha, they all agreed too as I handed them warm-from-the-oven samples. My husband, Mike, would affirm this too I’m sure, but he’s traveling for work so he missed out, and isn’t happy about it. Still unconvinced? Maybe you know them as Russian Tea Cakes or Snowflakes instead. I just call them Christmas goodness. They have a magical power of making me get all sentimental, thinking about my mom, grandma and Christmas time in general.
The only problem with these little balls is that they can come out pretty dry if you over bake them. Once that happens, you should use them as golf balls instead. Believe me, it’s an easy recipe to make, but it’s taken me a couple years to patiently watch the oven. I’ve made a few that would knock a tooth out. But, if you’re attentive, they’re light and crumbly and melt in your mouth. They are meant to be a little more like a shortbread, but I went ahead and reduced the flour just a bit to ensure I didn’t get golf balls this time. It worked and December holiday baking has officially begun for me.
Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies
- adapted from Bon Appétit and the recipe my mom always uses from Betty Crocker
makes about 4 dozen cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup finely chopped/coarsely ground pecans
Toast pecans in oven at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Or, if lazy (like me) or always in a hurry (like me), take the easy route and toast them in the toaster oven for 2-3 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture, beating until well blended. Mix in pecans with a wooden spoon.
Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough with palms into 1-inch balls. Arrange balls on large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until light golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 16-18 minutes. Check cookies throughout baking to be sure not to over bake. If baked too long, bottoms will burn and cookies will be very dry.
Pour 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar in pie dish. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in powdered sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again once cooled. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough, or reserve remaining powdered sugar and freeze dough for later use. Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. For extra powdered sugar on your cookies, save leftover powdered sugar and sift over cookies just before serving.