These delicate shortbread-style cookies, made with chopped, roasted pecans and rolled in powdered sugar, are an elegant addition to any fiesta. They look beautiful by themselves or arranged with darker-color treats on an elegant cookie tray.
Where their name in English came from is a mystery, for while these cookies certainly are popular in Mexico, they are not particularly associated with weddings there. Their name is Spanish is polvorones, which translates very loosely to crumbly, an accurate description of their texture.
Less mysterious, however, is the fact that buttery, nutty treats very similar to these are known the world over and are called by names such diverse as Pecan Balls, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowdrops, Italian Butter Nuts, Southern Pecan Butterballs, Pecan Sandies, Swedish Tea Cakes, Viennese Sugar Balls, and more.
- 1 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped and roasted (see below)
Place butter, half of the powdered sugar (3/4 cup), and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Stir vigorously or beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until completely combined into a homogenous mixture.
In a separate bowl, combine flour and half the salt (1/4 teaspoon). Add the flour to the butter about 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition, until well incorporated. Carefully fold in the nuts.
Take a small amount of dough and roll it into a one- to two-inch ball. Place it on a on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Repeat with more dough, leaving about 2 inches of space between balls.
Bake your cookies at 350 Fahrenheit / 177 Celsius for about 15 minutes.
Stir together the rest of the powdered sugar and salt. After taking cookies out of the oven, roll them one by one in this mixture. Place on rack to cool. If desired, roll cookies in sugar again once they have cooled completely.
Store your buttery Mexican Wedding Cakes (a.k.a. Polvorones) in an airtight container. While tasty right away, they are even more delicious the day after they are made.
Tip: These cookies can be successfully frozen (tightly wrapped) for several weeks, so they are a great choice for a make-ahead treat.
How to Roast Pecans
Place pecan halves or pieces on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 Fahrenheit / 178 Celsius degree oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time. Keep an eye on them, as nuts tend to burn easily. Cool pecans completely before chopping.
-Edited by Robin Grose