There’s something irresistible about Mexican Wedding cookies. I can't help but reach for them whenever they appear on a cookie platter.
These cookies have a crumbly, buttery, nutty texture that just melts in your mouth. Like I said: completely irresistible.
The soft, melt-away texture of Mexican Wedding cookies is thanks to a rich, buttery dough and lots of crushed nuts. These cookies don’t have any egg to bind them, so they're crumbly instead of chewy. This makes them more like shortbread than, say, sugar cookies.
Those crushed nuts in the dough also give these cookies their addictive flavor. Though I’ve tried these cookies with crushed almonds and crushed walnuts, for me, pecans are the way to go.
Definitely take the extra step to toast your nuts before mixing the dough. It seems fussy, but toasting really does help boost the flavor of the nuts and give the cookies the best nutty flavor.
Although some cooks add spices to their Mexican Wedding cookies, I’m really a purist and made this version without any spices at all. Feel free to add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon if you’re that sort of daredevil! Nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves also work well.
Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes?
By the way, I’ve always been rather confused by the difference between Mexican Wedding cookies and Russian Tea Cakes. Apparently most of the Internet is too! In looking at various recipes in cookbooks and on the web, the recipes look pretty much identical, leading me to believe that these cookies are basically the same despite their different names.
Are Mexican Wedding Cakes Really Mexican?
This is one cookie with a complicated origin. Although some Mexicans serve them at weddings and for Christmas — one of our readers, Emma, commented that she grew up in Mexico and frequently had them during those times of celebration — there are versions of these cookies in many cultures.
Some food historians trace the cookies back to the ancient Middle East and think the perhaps travelers on trade routes brought them to parts of Europe, which could account for why there are versions of this cookie in so many countries. They may have made their way to Mexico by Spanish conquistadors or other travelers to North America.
Other Types of Nuts To Use
If you choose to use a different nut other than pecans in this recipe, the toasting time may be different based on the size of the nut. Keep a good eye on them as they toast. Also, since there are so many similar cookies throughout different cultures, if you choose to use walnuts, you'll essentially be making snowballs. If you choose to use almonds, you'll essentially be making almond crescents.
Fixes for Crumbly Dough
This dough is more cumbly by nature the some other cookie doughs like sugar cookies or chocolate chips. Even if the dough is crumbly, if you can press it into your fist and it holds together, it's good to use.
Try these tips if the dough is too crumbly.
- Start with room temperature butter, between 68°F and 70°F.
- Use a stand mixer or a hand mixer to beat the dough a little longer.
- Bring the dough completely to room temperature after it's been refrigerated.
- If the dough is still too crumbly, flick it with cool water and gently work it with your hands. Repeat until the dough holds its shape. You shouldn't end up using more than about 2 tablespoons of water.
How to Freeze Mexican Wedding Cookies for Later
Freezing the dough: Freeze Mexican wedding cookie dough for up to 1 month. Form the dough into a big disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and then place it in a zip-top freezer bag. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator and then bring it to room temperature before making cookies.
Freezing the dough in cookie-ready balls: You can also roll the dough into balls (do not roll the balls into powdered sugar), and place the balls on a baking sheet in the freezer until they are just frozen through. Then, place them in a freezer safe zipper top bag. Thaw the balls of cookie dough in the refrigerator. When thawed, roll them in powdered sugar and bake.
Freezing the baked cookies: Freeze the cookies in a zip-top freezer bag for up to 3 months. When you defrost them, the powdered sugar may dissolve a little bit. We suggest removing the cookies from the bag and defrosting them on a wire rack. If necessary, sprinkle a little more powdered sugar on them.
More Bite-Sized Cookie Recipes
- Walnut Snowball Cookies
- Eggnog Cookies
- Spritz Cookies
- Pfeffernüsse Spice Cookies
- Pecan Meringue Cookies
Mexican Wedding Cookies
You can substitute any other nut in place of the pecans. Times for toasting in Step 1 will vary based on the size of the nut you use.
For the cookie dough:
1 cup (115g) pecan pieces
1 cup (225g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup (85g) powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
To roll the cookies:
1 1/4 cup (145g) powdered sugar
Toast the nuts on the stovetop:
Place the nuts in a medium skillet and place over medium heat. Toast the nuts, stirring frequently, until they darken slightly and smell fragrant and nutty, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and let the nuts cool in the pan.
Crush the nuts:
Once the toasted nuts are warm to the touch, but not hot, pour them into a quart-size sealable freezer bag. Seal the bag, and then use a rolling pin to roll and crush the nuts until they are crushed into a chunky powder. Set aside until needed.
(Alternatively, pulse in a food processor until powdery. Be careful of over-processing or the nuts will turn into nut butter!)
Mix the butter and sugar:
Place the butter and 3/4 cup powdered sugar in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat together on medium speed until the sugar is absorbed into the butter and the buttery paste clings to the side of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat for an additional 30 seconds to incorporate.
Add the flour and salt:
Mix on low speed. As the dry ingredients start to absorb into the butter-sugar mixture, you can increase the speed back to medium. Once all the flour is mixed in and a dough has formed, stop the mixer.
Add the crushed nuts:
Mix on low speed to incorporate.
Chill the dough:
Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a disk about 1-inch thick. Wrap tightly with the plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until the dough is firm.
Preheat the oven and prepare the baking sheets:
About 10 minutes before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line 2 baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
Roll the cookies:
Place the 1 1/4 cups of powdered sugar for coating the cookies into a shallow bowl. Remove the chilled dough out of the refrigerator and form into 1-inch balls of dough. (If your dough chilled longer than 1 hour, you may need to let it soften for a few minutes at room temperature.)
Roll the balls of dough in powdered sugar and place on the baking mat, spaced slightly apart.
Bake for 17 to 19 minutes or until the cookies start to brown slightly on top and are golden brown on the bottoms. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes after baking.
While the cookies are still warm, roll each cookie in the powdered sugar again:
Return the cookies to the cooling rack and let cool completely before serving.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container. They will keep well for at least a week.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 24 to 30|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||12%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||20%|
|Total Carbohydrate 15g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|