Mexican Wedding Cookies
Recipe and photograph reprinted with permission. From America's Test Kitchen's The New Family Cookbook. © 2014.
- Servings: Makes 48 small cookies.
This cookie is a popular treat that is easy to make but all too often, its tender crumb can fall apart. Leave it to the folks at America's Test Kitchen to solve that problem without losing any of this favorite sweet's nutty flavor.
Why This Recipe Works
Mexican wedding cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes or nut crescents (when shaped accordingly), have a delicate, fine texture much like shortbread. In order to really drive home the nut flavor, we found it necessary to use equal amounts of nuts and flour.
The trick to helping these cookies hold together with all those nuts and no eggs (eggs made the cookies too cakey) was to grind half of the nuts very finely into crumbs to release their natural oil — almost to a butter. When we tried grinding all of the nuts this fine, the cookies turned out too dense.
Finally, we found it best to roll the cookies in powdered sugar twice—after cooling and again just before serving — so that the sugar doesn’t melt or brush off. If you can’t find superfine sugar in the supermarket, simply process 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a food processor for 30 seconds and then measure out 1/3 cup.
- 2 cups pecans or walnuts
- 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) superfine sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Process 1 cup nuts in food processor until texture of coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds; transfer to medium bowl. Process remaining 1 cup nuts in now-empty food processor until coarsely chopped, about 5 seconds; transfer to bowl with ground nuts.
- Stir flour and salt into nuts.
- Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and superfine sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and slowly add nut mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and continue to beat on low speed until dough is cohesive, about 7 seconds. Give dough final stir by hand to ensure that no flour pockets remain.
- Working with 1 tablespoon dough at a time, roll into balls and space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets.
- Bake cookies until tops are pale golden and bottoms are just beginning to brown, about 18 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
- Place confectioners’ sugar in shallow dish. Working with several cookies at a time, roll in sugar to coat. Just before serving, reroll cookies in confectioners’ sugar and gently shake off excess.