November 02, 2010

To Try Tuesday - Pumpkin Spice Wedding Cakes

I love Mexican Wedding Cakes.  They have such a wonderful crumbly texture and are just the right size to pop in your mouth.  Of course I have made them many times before so, technically, they did not qualify for To Try Tuesday.  However, they were calling my name so I had to come up with something different for them.  I decided I wanted to make them somewhat seasonal so I had an idea - what if I added pumpkin pie spice to the dough and to the powdered sugar exterior?  Pumpkin Spice Wedding Cakes were born.

Of course they really aren't cakes at all, they are cookies.  These cookies are also known as Russian Tea Cakes, Butterballs, Swedish Tea Cakes, Polvornes,  and even Moldy Mice.  "According to several food history sources and cookbooks they are a universal holiday cookie-type treat.  This means this recipe is not necessarily connected to any one specific country. It is connected with the tradition of saving rich and expensive food (the richest butter, finest sugar, choicest nuts) for special occasions. Food historians trace the history of these cookies and cakes to Medieval Arab cuisine, which was rich in sugar. Small sugar cakes with nuts (most often almonds) and spices were known to these cooks and quickly adopted by the Europeans. This sweet culinary tradition was imported by the Moors to Spain, diffused and assimilated throughout Europe, then introduced to the New World by 16th century explorers. Sugar cookies, as we know them today, made their appearance in the 17th century. Recipes called Mexican wedding cakes descend from this tradition. They first appear in American cookbooks in the 1950s".

Although the original recipe from Epicurious states that it makes 4 dozen cookies I only got 2 dozen.  I guess mine were a bit more of a mouthful.  Either way they did not last long.

Pumpkin Spice Wedding Cakes
(adapted from a recipe on Epicurious)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, separated
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. 
  3. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. 
  4. Beat in flour and pumpkin pie spice, then pecans. 
  5. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
  6. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice in a bowl to blend. Set sugar aside.
  7. Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. 
  8. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. 
  9. Gently toss warm cookies in sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. 
  10. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. 
  11. Toss cookies in powered sugar again and serve (or place in an airtight container).
Yield: Makes about 2 dozen

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1 comment:

  1. I love, love, love Mexican Wedding Cakes. I make them every Christmas and they are my favorite. I really like the idea of adding some pumpkin pie spice. They look great.

    Also, I think "To Try Tuesday" is such a great idea.


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