I wonder when the holiday baking period officially ends. After Christmas or before New Year’s Eve? Does it ends on January 6th to celebrate Epiphany? In our home the holiday baking will continue for a while because baking and cooking actually relax me. I know, I’m weird like that.
The other day I had a sweet idea to invite the family over for dessert after our post-Christmas lunch at as local resturant. To continue the holiday celebration I’m serving an international array of sweets. A French Gateau au Chocolat, an American apple pie, a plate of German Spekulatius cookies, and last but not least, Mexican Wedding Cakes.
No, no one is getting married (at least not that I know of), but I want to celebrate a sweet Christmas with the family by serving Mexican Wedding Cakes in contrast to the multi-tiered conventional wedding cake.
History of Mexican Wedding Cakes
Mexican Wedding Cakes are actually bite-sized cookies traditionally served at special occasions such as weddings and christenings. The recipe calls for rich ingredients such as butter and sugar which in years past was normally reserved for significant events.
In Mexico the sugar cookie became popular following Spanish colonization in the 16th century. Some food historians believe these types of cookies and cakes derive from Moorish traditions that spread through Europe and eventually reached the Americas.
Other historians say Mexican wedding cakes may have migrated to Mexico with European nuns, or may have been associated with cookies served beside Russian samovars (tea urns).
Somehow, someway the cookie recipe traveled far and wide.
One Cookie, One World
Across the world, the basic recipe includes butter, powdered sugar, flour, finely chopped nuts, and the best pure vanilla extract you can find. The shape varies from round and flat to crescent-shaped.
The cookie name on the other hand is quite diverse depending on the country. You’ll find them called Russian Tea Cakes, Mandulás kifli (Hungary), Polvorones (Spain), Finska kakor (Finland), and Napoleonshatte (Danish) and the list of names go on.
Holiday celebrations will continue for a few weeks, so I won’t end my holiday baking right away. The Mexican Wedding Cake cookies are easy to make and your guests will really love the powdery melt-in-your mouth cookie.
Mexican Wedding Cakes Recipe
Butter and nuts and vanilla to spice,
melt in your mouth Mexican Wedding Cakes,
are heavenly nice!
Cookie Ingredients (Makes about 50 cookies)
- 1 cup (105 grams) nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts)
- 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter (high fat content European-style) cut into teaspoon sized cubes, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (30 grams) confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (255 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons flour (for grinding the nuts)
Sugar Dusting Ingredients
- 1 cup (120 grams) powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar, sifted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
- Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake until lightly brown, about 8 minutes. Allow the nuts to cool completely.
- Place nuts and 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of flour into your food processor. Pulsate until the nuts are finely ground (being careful not to form a paste).
- In your stand mixer (hand or electric mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the vanilla extract and baste. Add the remaining flour, salt, and cinnamon and beat until combined. Stir in the ground nuts.
- Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm (about 60 minutes).
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using a large melon baller, take the approximate amount of dough needed to form the chilled dough into balls about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Place them 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for about 8-11 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies just begin to turn light brown.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and carefully place them on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Place 1 cup (120 grams) of sifted confectioners’ sugar on a flat plate or in a bowl. Work quickly and roll the hot cookies in the sugar, one at a time using a spoon or knife to cover them completely. Alternatively, you can sift confectioners’ sugar directly onto the cookies.
- Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely before storing (in an airtight container).
Before serving you may want to dust the cookies again using sifted confectioners’ sugar.