This is an very interesting cookie and recipe; it is sort of a BOGO thing. Mexican Wedding Cookies ((Polvorones) and Russian Tea Cakes are almost the same recipe; the only difference in the way I make them is in the type of nut flour I use and the shape into which I make the cookie. Notice that I said “in the way I make them”; a lot of other peoples’ recipes do not make any difference in the two. My basic recipe is a Short Bread cookie dough, with nut flour added; there is no leavening or egg in the recipe. You will find other recipes that add egg to the basic Short Bread, and do not differentiate on the type of nut flour. In most cases, these are all called Mexican Wedding Cookies. I have seen recipes that use pecans, walnuts or almonds, all calling them Mexican Wedding Cookies.
A Short Bread recipe is fairly simple and short; it contains fat, sugar, flour and flavoring. This recipe adds the nut flour to make the cookies. For Mexican Wedding Cookies, the nut flour is ground pecans, and for the Russian Tea Cakes the nut flour is ground walnuts. The second differentiation I make is in the shape of the cookie; while I leave the Russian Tea Cakes as balls, I roll the Mexican Wedding Cookies into crescents. I have seen Mexican Wedding Cookies that make them as a ball that looks exactly like the Russian Tea Cakes. This picture is my Russian Tea Cakes.
So, with this recipe, you can make either Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes, and if you want to interpret the recipe in your own way, feel free. You may make your cookies with any nut flour you want, and you may shape your cookies any way you want. I am only showing you the way I learned.
The nut flours are easy to make; they do not have to be ground to a powder, but just enough to be easy to handle in the dough. The way I make mine is in a food processor. I have found that it is best to run a knife through the nut halves a couple times before putting them in the food processor so the projectiles the spinning blades throw do not have as much mass; it scares me to hear the nut halves hit the side of the processor bowl. I think once when I did just dump the halves in the processor, I actually cracked a piece of the plastic of the processor bowl. Once in the processor, just pulse it a few times; there will still be a few discernible pieces, but for the most part you will have a fine enough grind to make the nut flour.
Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup nut flour
- For the nut flour, measure out the desired type of nuts, cut any large pieces, then finely grind in food processor or blender. I use pecans for Mexican Wedding Cookies and walnuts for Russian Tea Cakes.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In large bowl with electric mixer beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until blended. On low speed, beat in flour and nut flour just until blended.
- Roll Tablespoons of dough into shape; smooth 1-inch balls for Russian Tea Cakes or crescents for Mexican Wedding Cookies. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets
- Bake 10 minutes or until firm (cookies may crack slightly).
- To Coat: put confectioners’ sugar into a wide bowl. Add hot cookies, a few at a time and toss carefully to coat. Remove with a spoon to wire rack to cool. When cool, roll again in confectioners’ sugar.
There are a couple tricks I should mention when making the crescent Mexican Wedding cookies. To roll out the Tablespoon of dough into a cylinder, I found that the best method was to roll across my bottom hand in a 45 degree direction, with my top hand doing the motion from little finger to first finger and back again. When I rolled at 90 degrees, the ending shape was wider in the middle than at the ends and didn’t make as nice a finished cookie.
Notice that the recipe says to remove with a spoon to the wire rack. If you try to pick the crescent up with your fingers, there is a good chance that it will break into two pieces. The spoon does not put any pressure against the legs and seems to save more cookies that when just using your fingers.
Once when I was making Mexican Wedding Cookies I rolled the unbaked crescents in the confectioners’ sugar before baking, and then again when they came out of the oven and were hot. This worked quite well. After all, the object is to get as much powdered sugar as possible on the cookies, isn’t it?