Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies

When baking an assortment of cookies for the holidays, it is nice to have both a variety of shapes and of flavors. Mexican Wedding Cookies are small, buttery, nut cookies, rolled in sugar that provide a contrast to drop cookies and to cut-out cookies in shape and provide contrast to chocolatey and to fruity cookies in flavor. This version, with spices mixed into the rolling sugar is both flavorful and aromatic. I made this batch last night and loved the way that they made the kitchen smell. Added bonuses are that these cookies are easy to make keep well for gift-giving. Enjoy!
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Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies

Makes about 32

Mexican Wedding Cookies – also known as Russian Tea Cakes, Italian Tea Cakes, Snowball Cookies, and Butter Balls, and probably a dozen other names – are a traditional Christmas cookie  in the United States. They are buttery cookies made with ground nuts, baked, and then rolled in confectioner’s sugar. In this version, aromatic cinnamon and cloves are added to the sugar.

• 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

• 2 T. confectioner’s sugar + 1/2 c. extra for rolling cookies

• 1 t. vanilla extract, or almond extract (if using almonds), or hazelnut extract (if using hazelnuts)*

• 1 c. all-purpose flour

• 1 c. pecans, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts, very finely chopped or pulsed in the food processor to the texture of coarse kosher salt

• 1 t. ground Vietnamese cinnamon

• 1/4 t. ground cloves

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 T. of the confectioner’s sugar and the vanilla extract. On lowest speed, beat in flour and then nuts. The mixture will be very crumbly.
  3. Spoon a small about (about 1 heaping teaspoon) of mixture into one of your palms. Squeeze lightly until the mixture holds together then shape into a ball. Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture, spacing the balls well apart on the 2 baking sheets.
  4. Bake for about 11 to 13 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned on the bottom. The tops of the cookies will be very pale. Place baking sheets on wire racks and allow cookies to cool.
  5. Once cool, whisk the spices into the remaining 1/2 c. of confectioner’s sugar. Roll the cookies in confectioner’s sugar mixture until well coated. Once you have rolled all of the cookies once, roll them in the mixture again until you have used all of it. To avoid getting finger prints in the cookies, transfer cookies to a serving plate or a storage container using a fork to lift them.

Enjoy! Happy Holidays!

Old-Fashioned Cocktail and Brandied Cherries

Recently, several people have asked me to post another cocktail recipe. So, friends, if anyone is planning to host a cocktail party, here is a classic …

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Old-Fashioned Cocktail

• 1 cube of sugar

• 3 – 4 drops Angostura bitters (traditional in this cocktail) or Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters (also very good)

• 1 – 2 brandied cherries

• 1 orange slice or lemon slice

• ice

• 2 oz. good bourbon (such as Woodford Reserve)

• 1 oz. cold water, optional

Place sugar cube in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass and then splash with bitters. Add 1 cherry and orange or lemon slice. Muddle ingredients together in bottom of glass.  Fill glass halfway with ice.  Add bourbon and, if a  lighter drink is desired, water.  Stir before serving to mix and chill drink and to make sure that sugar is dissolved. If desired, plop another cherry in the cocktail. Cheers!

Brandied Cherries

• 1 1/4 c. fresh cherries that have been washed and pitted (or frozen dark sweet cherries if fresh aren’t available)

• 1/4 c. granulated white sugar

• 1/4 c. water

• 1/2 t. fresh lemon or lime zest

• dash of ground cinnamon

• pinch of ground nutmeg

• pinch of ground cardamom

1/4 c. good brandy

Place all of the ingredients, except the brandy,  in a medium-sized saucepan. Gently stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 7 minutes or until liquid is thick and syrupy. Remove from heat. Stir in brandy. Transfer to a clean glass jar. Refrigerate uncovered until cool, then tightly seal jar. Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.