I’m not really a baker. Except for the Caramel Cake, which was inspired by the book, The Help. And the Tres Leches cake, because the idea of “three milks” fascinated me. And Mexican Wedding Cookies, which were inspired by a recent trip to a little French bakery in town. Yes, we have a little French bakery, where my husband and I ate patisserie and sipped hot, rich café au lait from bowl-sized cups. The little French bakery took me back in time to our honeymoon in Paris, where there was a bakery on every block. And a bistro. Which is exactly why we went to Paris for our honeymoon. The romance! The food! The sips of Poire Williams with a sugar cube at a sidewalk café just a few yards from the Eiffel Tower, 26 years ago…
… Back to the little bakery in town. They had all manner of beautiful cakes, cookies, and homemade chocolates. And beautiful loaves of fresh bread. As we took our turn at the counter, I spied a big bowl of Mexican Wedding Cookies. They were floating in a sea of confectioner’s sugar, scented with just a hint of cinnamon. Mexican Wedding Cookies are nutty and buttery and perfect for the holidays. Rolled in confectioner’s sugar, the cookies resemble little snowballs. They are a simple shortbread cookie that anyone can make, enriched with the addition of ground pecans.
I thought they would be a perfect cookie for us to make, since we can get the pecans fresh from the ancient groves that surround Cowlick Cottage. It makes them a little more homemade and a little more special. Plus, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since we visited the little French bakery in town. You never know where you’ll find inspiration!
There are many recipes online for Mexican Wedding Cookies, but this one has one little extra step that makes a big difference. Take a few extra moments, and toast the pecans on a cookie sheet in the oven before you grind them up in the food processor. Toasting them really brings out their wonderful nutty essence, and your house will smell amazing. Merry Christmas!
Mexican Wedding Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted at 350 degrees for about six minutes, finely ground in a food processor
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Using an electric mixer, cream butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add ½ cup of the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then ground pecans. Divide the dough in half, form each half into a ball, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend remaining 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside. Working with half of the chilled dough at a time, roll about 2 teaspoons of dough into a ball. Arrange balls on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper, setting them about ½ inch apart. Bake cookies until just golden brown on the bottom and barely golden on the top, about 18 minutes. Cool until just lukewarm, and then roll the cookies in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Reserve remaining sugar for an extra toss. Bon appetit!