Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mexican Wedding Cakes

This is another long-standing favorite Christmas cookie around our house. These take a little bit of time, but are really worth it in taste and presentation. The recipe suggests several nut options, but I use almonds. I love the toasted almond flavor in this cookie and I must insist you take the time to toast the almonds. The cookie itself has a bit of crispness for texture combined with a silky feel from the powder sugar coating. Enjoy!

The original recipe and photo come from Joy of Baking.

2/3 cup (65 grams) toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts)
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar
1 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Topping: 1 cup (110 grams) powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar, sifted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Toast Nuts: Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 5- 8 minutes, or until lightly brown and fragrant. Cool. Once the nuts have cooled completely place them, along with 2 tablespoons (25 grams) of the flour from the recipe, into your food processor, fitted with a metal blade, and process until they are finely ground (but not a paste). Set aside.

3. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the remaining flour and salt and beat until combined. Stir in the nuts. Cover and refrigerate the dough for about 1 hour or until firm.

4. Form the dough into 1 inch (2.54 cm) balls and place them 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12 - 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes.

5. Line another baking pan or tray with parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar on the bottom of the pan and then place the slightly cooled cookies on top of the sugar. Place the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a fine strainer or sieve and then sprinkle the tops of the cookies (or you can just roll the cookies in the sugar).

Store in an airtight container. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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