Mexican Wedding Cakes Recipe:
2/3 cup (65 grams) 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 (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (120 grams) powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar, sifted
Mexican Wedding Cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven.
Toast Nuts: Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 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).
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat 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 one hour or until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Form the chilled dough into 1 inch (2.5 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.
Meanwhile, place the 1 cup (120 grams) sifted confectioners sugar in a bowl. Take the still hot cookies and roll them in the sugar, one at a time. Place on a wire rack to cool. Or you can simply place the confectioners sugar in a strainer and sift the sugar over the tops of the cookies. Let cool completely before storing. Can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks. Can roll or sift the cookies in more confectioners sugar before serving.
Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
Mexican Wedding Cakes are a melt-in-your mouth shortbread-like cookie that goes by many names; a Russian Tea Cake, an Italian Butter Nut, a Southern Pecan Butterball, a Snowdrop, a Viennese Sugar Ball and a Snowball. They are very popular, not only during the Christmas season, but also at weddings, christenings, and other festive occasions. Looking at these cookies you could mistake them for Melting Moments, as the only difference between the two is that Mexican Wedding Cakes contain ground nuts (either ground pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts).
The secret to great tasting Mexican Wedding Cakes is to use a high quality butter and pure vanilla extract. Butter in the States is graded according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body and one easy way to tell the quality of the butter is by the letter code or numerical number listed on the butter's package. The highest grade is AA (93 score), then A (92 score), followed by B (90 score). Buying vanilla extract can also be a challenge as there are so many choices. The first thing to do is to make sure that it is labeled "pure". The best I have found, although it is quite expensive, is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract that can be found in specialty food stores and by mail order. If your budget doesn't allow this expenditure or you cannot find it, don't worry, there are quality brands to be found in your local grocery store. Just stay away from the ones labeled "imitation" vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla (from glycoside found in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal extracts) and leave a bitter aftertaste.