Sunday, January 9, 2011
Would you like to try a cookie with a dozen names? What -- that doesn't get your salivary glands going? Well then, how about a light n' crunchy, buttery n' nutty ball of cookie goodness rolled in not one, but two coats of pretty powdery sugar? Oh yes, I've got your attention now 8). Whether you know these treats as Mexican wedding cakes, Danish wedding cakes, Russian tea cakes, snowballs, butterballs, or some other moniker, there's no denying their widespread appeal.
I loved 'em so much as a kid that I'd inhale dozens as a time. I outgrew that habit long ago (good thing since I plan to become a dietitian), but I still adore these treats for the great taste and memories that come with them. They were first on my list of homemade treats to bring when visiting my dad and baby sisters (2 and 4 years old) in Florida. I was an only child until 22 and no longer expecting siblings by then, so I have a LOT to learn about being a big sis. But considering what cookie monsters these girls have already proven to be, I think we'll have a lot in common ^_^.
Do you guys have a regional/family version of these cookies? Tell me about them please!
Mexican Tea Cakes [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
XIAOLU'S NOTES: Please note that the dough needs to be prepared ahead of time and chilled at least 6 hours before baking. Don't try to bake more than one tray at a time, since baking each tray in the middle of the oven is crucial to getting evenly cooked and browned cookies. Feel free to substitute walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or almost any other nuts you like for the pecans. Have fun with it!
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup very finely chopped lightly toasted pecans
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped bar (optional)
2 T finely chopped sweetened flaked coconut (optional)
Sift flour, salt, spices, cocoa powder, and salt together into a medium bowl; set aside.
Cream together butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderately high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla; then add flour, pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut (if using) and mix at low speed until just combined. Chill, covered, for at least 6 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Let dough stand at room temperature until just pliable, 15 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, sift remaining 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar into a large shallow bowl.
Roll tablespoons of dough into 1-inch balls and arrange about 2 inches apart on lightly buttered large baking sheets. Bake in batches in middle of oven until bottoms are pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes. (You can keep prepared trays in the refrigerator until it's their turn in the oven.) Transfer cookies to powdered sugar while still hot, gently rolling to coat well, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. (Don't worry when some of this sugar melts; it's meant to create a layer for the 2nd coat of sugar to stick to.)
Roll cookies in powdered sugar again when cooled.