January 08, 2012

Russian Tea Cakes / Mexican Wedding Cakes

I think I may have found a new favorite cookie. When I tell others my excitement over these cookies, I get a "oh yeah! those are good."  I'm disappointed. Why am I the last to know about these delicious cookies?

I originally found them as Russian tea cakes and after some reading, found they are more commonly known as Mexican wedding cakes.  These are similar to a crumbly, melt in your mouth shortbread cookie.  After making these a few times with different nuts, I recommend pecans over the walnuts.  Toasting the nuts is also very important as I made a batch without doing so and they definitely did not taste as good.

Mexican Wedding Cakes / Russian Tea Cakes
Makes about 3 dozen
Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking

1 cup pecan (can use walnuts, hazelnuts, etc.)
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp by leaving out on counter for 2 hours)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon 

1. Toast your nuts in a pan on the stove until they slightly brown and you get that awesome nutty smell.  Put in a bowl and let it cool completely.  This is important as if you grind the nuts while they are still warm, it will start to clump together into more of a paste instead of the ground nuts you need.
2. Once cool, put in a food processor. Take your two cups of flour and spoon two tablespoon into the food processor.  The rest of the flour will be used in the next step.  Grind until finely ground. 
3. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and the powdered sugar until very well blended.  I let the processor run for a good 4-5 minutes, stopping periodically to scrap down the sides. 
4. Add in the vanilla extract and blend. 
5. Add in the flour (which is less by two tablespoon for the nuts) and the salt. Mix well for another 3-4 minutes.
6. Add in the ground nuts into the mixture.
7. Once incorporated, scrape down the sides/clean the paddle and cover the container. Put it in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes or so.
8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and start rolling the dough into small balls. I take a tablespoon and use that to measure each one.  These cookies do not spread much so you can place them fairly close together. 
9. Bake for 13-15 minutes or when you start to notice the edges starting to brown. Take them off the sheet and let them cool. When they are ready to be coated in the sugar, put the powdered sugar and the cinnamon in a bowl. Using a fork, use it to fluff the sugar to help roll the cookie in the sugar.  Note, don't roll the cookies right out of the oven or the heat from the cookie will melt the powdered sugar.

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