Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Besides sugar cookies, these are the one cookies I always remember my mom making us at Christmastime.
Mexican wedding cakes. Also known as bite-size happiness.

I always got to help her roll them in the powdered sugar. And when I was tall enough & responsible enough to work an oven & a whisk without burning the house down, they were the first cookies I ever made.
This is where it all started, guys.

This is one of those recipes that everyone seems to has (and with good reason too, they're super delicious) and everyone seems to have a different name for these sugary bits of deliciousness: Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Pecan Meltaways, Pecan Butterballs, Snowballs...

On a sidenote, I've always wondered how these traditional cookies could be both "Mexican" and "Russian." It's not as though the two countries are next-door neighbors; their names don't even sound alike so it's not like somebody's grandmother got confused when they were writing down the recipe.

History lesson!

According to a highly scientific source, these cookies were based off of a pastry from the Middle Ages known as jumbles and originated in Russia in the 18th century to be used during tea-sharing ceremonies. By the 20th century, they began serving them here in America at weddings and then in the 1950s, the name changed from "Russian" to "Mexican" because of "strained relations with the Soviet Union."

Personally, I think they should have just reverted to calling them jumbles.  

Jumbles. Jumbles. Jumblesjumblesjumbles.

Okay, I'm done. Here's the recipe... straight out of our 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Book.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Printable Recipe

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I used pecans, but walnuts work too)
Extra confectioners' sugar for rolling cookies in

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Work in the flour, salt, and nuts until dough holds together. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes until set, but not brown. While warm, roll in powdered sugar. Let cool and then roll in powdered sugar again. 

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Source: Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, 1963