Think about Christmas foods and the first thing that pops into your mind is a Christmas cookie. Sweet, buttery, nutty, chocolate bites that transport us to our childhood days and fill a kitchen with the smells, sights and sounds of holiday preparation. The great personal reward for a busy day of shopping, wrapping, or making last minute gifts is a cup of tea and a couple of cookies. The perfect thank you gift for a holiday hostess is a tray of cookies.
Cookies come from the heart and the hearth. Some are treasured family recipes, reminders of holidays at Grandma’s house. Others are from ratty looking clippings from a newspaper or magazine that sits in the recipe file until December every year. Or they may be a healthy bite filled with the trendiest ingredients to keep you fueled through the holidays. Whatever your idea is of a perfect cookie and IF you need an excuse to tie on an apron, Christmas time just has to be the time to preheat the oven and create some cookie magic.
Here is my recipe for Mexican Wedding Cakes. They also go by many other names. You will recognize them when you see them. These small powered sugar covered, tender discs are so worth the minimal effort required to produce them. The recipe calls for toasted pecans but I’m going to experiment with making them with the black walnuts that we collected from our land this year…I’ll let you know how it goes.
Mexican Wedding Cakes
1/2 cup pecan halves
1 cup powered sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups powered sugar for topping
Place the pecans on a cookie sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
In a food processor with a metal blade, process the sugar with the pecans and salt until the pecans are powder fine. Cut the butter into a few pieces and add it to the work bowl. Process until smooth and creamy. Scrape the sides of the work bowl. Add the vanilla and pulse in. add the flour and pulse in until the dough starts to clump together.
Scrape the dough into a clean bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
Measure the dough into 1 -inch balls and roll between the palms of your hands. Flour your hands lightly of necessary. Place the balls 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cookies barely begin to brown. Rotate the cookie sheets if necessary to assure even browning.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 2-3 minutes. Using a small metal spatula, lift the cookies from the baking sheet and roll them in powered sugar while they are still hot. Roll them several times to achieve an even powdery coating. Place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely. dust again with powdered sugar and store in a airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for about a month (but they probably won’t last that long!)
The recipe makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.