I can’t put my finger on why, but this year I’ve had trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. I’m watching the movies, listening to the music, wrapping the presents, going to the parties…but for some reason this year has felt a bit…off to me.
However, there’s nothing like some Christmas baking to lift one’s spirits, and thanks to my participation in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I had three dozen reasons to get covered in powdered sugar and dance along to my Glee Christmas Pandora station (-10 cool points).
Given the countless cookie possibilities that exist in the world, I decided to pick something that tied into the Mexican groove I’ve got going on, and that decision exponentially reduced options and the anxiety of picking the “perfect cookie.” Is there such a thing? Perhaps my White Chocolate Raspberry come close. I digress. With my regional limitation in mind, it seemed like Mexican Wedding Cookies were the obvious choice.
Mexican Wedding Cookies are commonly served at Christmas time and through the winter months, but in reality are eaten all year, and often times served at weddings. Turns out, every country has some version or another of this buttery ball. Arab cuisine often featured sweetmeats, candies, and other confections containing nuts. As the recipe spread through Eastern Europe and west towards Spain, each country adapted it to its own tastes and available ingredients. Eventually, it made its way across the sea to the New World, and the twists and turns continue today.
Turns out, in my Eastern European house, these bites of heaven were called butterballs, and were most definitely a staple in every year’s cookie tin. As we’ve gotten older in age, fewer in number and perhaps more selective about the few cookies we choose bake every year, it’s been more than a handful of years since I’ve made these. In fact, I didn’t even have the recipe in my own recipe box, but had to as Mama for the recipe. As tradition goes, I tweaked the recipe myself by adding a bit of cinnamon for that little extra touch of Mexico.
A crowd favorite, perfect for your next cookie swap.
- 1 cup butter
- 2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- To the bowl of a food processor, add the pecan, salt and cinnamon. Process until the nuts are finely chopped, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the butter and ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla extract.
- Slowly add the flour and the pecan mixture. Beat on low until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix.
- Roll dough into about 18 balls (using about 1 TB dough per ball). Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
- Bake until lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack and let sit only a few minutes until cool enough to handle. While they’re cooking, dust lightly with a bit of confectioner’s sugar using a fine mesh sieve.
- Place remaining confectioner’s sugar in a bowl. After cookies have cooled about 10 minutes, roll each cookie in the sugar again. Let cool completely and sprinkle each with a titch of cinnamon.
- Store in an airtight container about 1 week.
Finally…all this baking was for a good cause. If you can, please donate to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.