Mexican Wedding Cakes

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As part of a Mexican tradition, I tucked these tender cookies into small gift boxes for the guests at my sister’s wedding a few years ago. Most folks gobbled them up before they ever got home! —Sarita Johnston, San Antonio, Texas

Mexican Wedding Cakes are a melt-in-your mouth shortbread cookie that goes by many names; a Russian Tea Cake, an Italian Butter Nut, a Southern Pecan Butterball, a Snowdrop, a Viennese Sugar Ball and a Snowball.

They are very popular, not only during the Christmas season, but also at weddings, christenings, and other festive occasions. Looking at these cookies you could mistake them for Melting Moments, as the only difference between the two is that Mexican Wedding Cakes contain ground nuts (either ground pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts).

The secret to great tasting Mexican Wedding Cakes is to use a high quality butter and pure vanilla extract. You can use salted or unsalted butter. If using salted butter, leave out the salt in the recipe. You can also use the higher fat European style (cultured) butters. For the vanilla extract, make sure to use one that is  labeled “pure”.

For the nuts, while I have used pecans, you can use walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds. I like to toast the nuts first as this really brings out their full flavor. The nuts need to be finely chopped. You can do this by hand or in your food processor.

Just make sure not to over process the nuts as you do not want a nut paste. Adding a little of the flour from the recipe when processing the nuts helps to prevent this from happening.

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White Almond Wedding Cake