Sunday, December 21, 2008
Recettes Secrètes: Polvorones (Mexican Wedding Cakes)
I know my blog has been very RECIPE-HEAVY lately, but 'tis the season folks - I'm broke and I'm nesting, so you bet I'm cooking away in my little kitchen! That said, I hope some of these recipes are helpful or enlightening.
Known by many names (Polvorones, Wedding cakes, Pecan Sandies, Russian tea cakes, Italian Butter Nuts, Southern Pecan Butterballs, Viennese Sugar Balls, Snowballs..), these little melt-in-your-mouth-and-in-your-hand buttery cookies get made every single year at Christmas in my kitchen. They are simple, delicious, and always a crowd-pleaser. The secret is using the best quality butter and pure vanilla extract you can find. You may also experiement with different nuts (walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts all work well), and also small additions of cocoa powder or cinnamon. Though I haven't tested them, these Pistachio and Cherry Mexican Wedding Cakes sound delicious.
Makes about 4 dozen
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
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 in a coffee grinder (or in a food processor with a little flour) and process until finely ground (but not a paste). Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter and 1/2 cup powdered 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 1 hour or until firm.
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls between your palms and place them 2 inches 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, line another baking pan or tray with parchment or wax paper. Sprinkle the remaining powdered sugar on the bottom of the pan and then place the slightly cooled cookies on top of the sugar. Gently roll warm cookies to coat. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool. Repeat the process once the cookies have cooled completely.
Store in an airtight container.