Mexican wedding cookies are rich, nutty cookies rolled in powdered sugar. Numerous cultures cook variations on the recipe, especially for holidays and other celebrations. Alternate names for the cookies include Russian teacakes, snowdrops, and pecan butterballs. Most pastry chefs agree that the secret to excellent Mexican wedding cookies is using high quality ingredients. A delicious batch of the cookies will not be inexpensive to make, but the flavor will compensate.
It is believed that the basic recipe for a sweet, nutty cookie probably originated in the medieval Arab world. Middle Eastern cuisine has included nutty spiced dessert foods for centuries, and these foods were readily adopted by European explorers, who undoubtedly tweaked the recipe to their satisfaction. Numerous historical recipes suggest that the basic idea of Mexican wedding cookies has been around for a long time, although the cookies were not known by that name until the 1950s. In Mexico, the cookies are handed out to guests at weddings and other celebrations. They are also used universally as holiday cookies.
To make Mexican wedding cookies, start by roasting 2/3 cup nuts in the oven, and then grinding them very finely with two tablespoons of flour to absorb the oil, preventing the nuts from turning into a nut butter. The nuts should not be reduced to a floury state, but they should be small grained. Next, cream one cup of salted, high quality butter with ¼ cup confectioner's sugar. Mix in ¼ teaspoon of salt, and add one teaspoon of pure vanilla. Some cooks add a teaspoon of almond extract as well, to enhance the nutty flavor of the cookies. Slowly blend two cups of flour into the mixture, following with the ground nuts.
Form the dough for the Mexican wedding cookies into small balls or crescents, and bake for 12-15 minutes in a 350 degree Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) oven, until the edges of the cookies are slightly browned. Pull the cookies out, allow them to cool on racks slightly, and then roll them in confectioner's sugar to create a powdery white coating. After they are completely cooled, the cookies can be stored in tins lined with wax paper, or wrapped up as party favors.
Many consumers compare Mexican wedding cookies to shortbread, and the recipes for the two are quite similar. The cookies will have a buttery flavor and crumbly texture if they have been well made. They can be served with tea or on a dessert platter, and particularly decadent bakers dip one half in rich dark chocolate. Other nuts can also be used, if pecans are not to the taste of the chef or they are unavailable.