These are a non-negotiable part of our Christmas baking ever since the day I found the recipe at Williams-Sonoma – one of my Holy Grail kitchen paraphernalia places, and I desperately miss just being able to drive to one, just anyone (or Sur la Table, Dean & Deluca, Bowery Kitchen supply if we are making a shopping list) for a quick browse & daydream. They have never been made in our kitchen with the recommended ground almonds since that would be nearly the same dough as for the German Vanillekipferl (minus the cinnamon, add seeds from a vanilla pod), half moon shaped cookies that are rolled in icing sugar just hot out of the oven. The same should be done with these but I like it if they have a snowy white icing sugar dusting rather than a half-melted coating, which is exactly what happens if you roll them in the sugar while hot.
Anyway, these might be ubiquitous in the States (and Mexico?) and have many names and origins attributed to them (Russian tea cakes, butterballs, snowball cookies etc.) but are always a crowd-pleaser with our English and German friends & relatives.
Mexican wedding cookies
makes about 4 dozens, adapted from this Williams-Sonoma recipe
228g (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)
125g (1 ¼ cups) icing or confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch or ¼ teaspoon salt
210g (1 ¾ cups) plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
120g (1 cup) ground hazelnuts
Cream the butter in a mixer, sift 50g (½ cup) of the icing sugar into the bowl and continue beating until light and pale yellow. Stir in the vanilla, mix salt, flour (sift if you like, most of the time I do not bother) together with cinnamon and add as well as the ground hazelnuts, giving the mixture only a few turns until just combined. Wrap the dough into cling film and rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 175°C (350° F) and sift the rest of the icing sugar (75g or ¾ cup) into a bowl.
Take the dough out of the fridge and form small balls (about 2.5 cm or 1 inch in size). Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until the cookies are just turning lightly golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack, then roll them in the icing sugar.