Mexican wedding cookies

Last year around this time, I wrote about my family being big on Christmas traditions. That’s probably an understatement. You could say our holiday is stuck in quicksand.

This Christmas, however, is going to be a bit different. Although it should be Edward’s and my year to go over to Canada, instead my parents are making the trip across the pond and we’ll all spend the week at this Landmark Trust property in rural(ish) Shropshire.

I’ve fantasized about Christmas in a Landmark for awhile. In my dreams it was this one, but never mind, I’m sure Bromfield Priory will be just fine. Idyllic setting? Check. Oldey worldy charm? Check. Wood burning stove? Check. Just add some decorations and plenty of rich holiday food, and we’re good to go.

With all this change in the crisp winter air, what better time to branch out into some new holiday recipes! Like all our other Christmas traditions, the baked goods consumed in our family have been the same year on year for as long as I can remember. Chocolate cake on Christmas Eve. Grandma’s shortbread. Komish Broit cookies. Stollen. Light fruitcake. So how will my family handle the wild and crazy addition to this year’s repertoire… the Mexican Wedding Cookie!

Well, probably just fine. Because it’s hardly a change at all. It’s, er, shortbread with ground nuts added and rolled in icing sugar.

Baby steps, baby steps.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Makes 3 dozen

65 g toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts)
227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
30 g icing sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
260 g all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
100 g icing sugar, for coating

Place nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, or until lightly brown and fragrant. Once the nuts have cooled place them in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and process until they are finely ground. Make sure you don’t overprocess them into a paste!

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until combined, then add the nuts and mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate the dough for about one hour, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350F / 180C. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Form the chilled dough into 1 inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, sprinkle about half the icing sugar onto a large tray and then place the slightly cooled cookies on top of the sugar. Sift over the remaining sugar using a fine strainer or sieve.

Store in an airtight container.