Mexican Wedding Cakes
I made Mexican Wedding Cookies for what felt like years working in a nearby Seattle restaurant. The recipe came from my dear friend Bennie, and I used a couple of her tricks when making the Mexican Wedding Cakes from Alice Medrich’s Cookies and Brownies.
This cookie is a standard in many cultures, carried only by the nuts you include. In the intro to this recipe, Medrich says ‘use pecans to make Mexican Wedding Cakes, almonds for Viennese crescents, or Greek kourabiedes, and walnuts for Russian tea cakes.” I chose to follow some of Bennie’s tricks – I spiced the nuts before grinding them (I used almonds) and I froze the dough overnight before baking them. The next morning I cut the dough into tidy dice-sized cubes and it fit well over 50 on a half-sheet tray (they don’t spread at all). The result, dredged twice in powdered sugar, is a bite-sized puff of nuts and butter.
A few notes about this recipe:
- Unlike all the other recipes I’ve tested from Cookies and Brownies, I assumed 1 c unbleached AP flour = 5 oz. I didn’t want this cookie to spread at all, so I upped the flour a bit.
- A few hours before I started baking, I tossed the almonds with egg whites, cinnamon, sugar, Espelette, and salt. I baked them at 350 until they were dry.
- I pushed the dough into a quarter sheet pan (so it was flat and densely packed) and froze it overnight. I set them out 30 minutes before cutting.
- I toss the cookies into powdered sugar almost immediately after they come out of the oven, put them onto cool cookie sheets, and then when they’re cool, I dredge them in powdered sugar again. Keeps the sugar on the cookie, but it’s pretty messy for the eater.
Mexican Wedding Cakes
1+1/2 c nuts
1/4 c granulated sugar
2 c AP flour
1/4 tsp salt
16 T unsalted butter, softened and cut into small chunks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk (optional)
1/2 c powdered sugar
2 cookie sheets, ungreased
- Pulse the nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade until half of them look finely chopped and the rest look pulverized. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and set aside.
- Wipe the bowl of the food processor with a paper towel to remove excess oil from the nuts.
- Put the granulated sugar in the bowl and process until it is fine and powdery.
- Add the flour and salt and pulse just to mix.
- Add the butter, cut into small chunks, the vanilla, and the egg yolk if using.
- Process until the mixture looks damp and begins to clump together.
- Add the nuts and pulse just until combined.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 325F. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
- Shape slightly more than level tablespoons of dough into 1+1/4-inch balls or crescent shapes.
- Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
- Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until lightly colored on top and golden brown on the bottom.
- Rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.
- While baking, put the powdered sugar into a small bowl.
- When the cookies are done, let them cool on the pan 5 minutes, then sieve powdered sugar over the top of each one.
- Cool completely on a rack before storing.
- Sieve additional powdered sugar over the cookies before serving if necessary.
Makes about 48 1+1/2-inch cookies
May be stored, airtight, for at least 2 weeks.
This recipe comes from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies, and is available on Purple House Dirt with permission from the author.