Friday, August 31, 2007

Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies


Every Christmas there are a few types of goodies that my mom makes. One of them is what she calls "snowballs", but most of you will know them as Mexican wedding cake cookies, or Russian tea cakes. Whatever you want to call them, I've never really liked them. Other people seem to though, including a friend whose bridal shower I was going to, so I said I would bring them. I was feeling really conflicted about bringing these cookies since I knew that I didn't like them and so I guess I worried that no one else would? Though I know everyone has different taste. Anyway, I used the same recipe that my mom always uses (where she crossed out the name "Russian tea cakes" and wrote snowballs, which I thought was funny). Also, to me snowballs are these chocolate coconut balls that my grandma makes, so it's just not right in my head for my mom to call these snowballs. Though I guess it's weird to call the brown chocolate coconut balls snowballs too.


The recipe for these "snowballs" is from an old worn copy of Betty Crocker's cookbook. This is one of two cookbooks that my mom and I made cookies out of when I was growing up. The tabs for the cookie sections have long been broken off in both cookbooks but I always knew what area of the book they were in. Now the incredibly good news is that I was really happy with how they turned out (despite some fears after rolling them in icing sugar and seeing how they became gummy/gluey on the outside while warm - though I later found out that it hardens up and is just fine and delicious). I'm not sure what it was that made them taste better this time to me. Most likely it was the vanilla I used, which my mom brought back for me (two 1 liter bottles!) from Mexico. Or perhaps she uses margarine instead of butter when she makes them, I'll have to ask her. Or maybe it was the expertly finely chopped walnuts that my boyfriend patiently and diligently prepared. As is my usual tendency, I made the snowballs way too big. I think that's a result of my impatience to get through the batter, and my love for big cookies.


When making the dough I was scared that it was too crumbly, but it turned out to be just fine. At the bottom of the recipe it suggests a variation called "ambrosia balls" that sound good, so I'll add that to the recipe below.

Russian Tea Cakes (aka Mexican wedding cakes, aka "snowballs")
(Adapted from Betty Crocker's cookbook)

1 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 400F. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla together until fluffy. Mix in flour, salt and nuts until dough holds together. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. While warm, roll in confectioners' sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again.

Variation (Ambrosia Balls): Omit nuts; add 1 cup finely cut coconut and 1 tablespoon grated orange peel with the flour.

19 comments:

Andrea said...

My mom and I made cookies from that exact same cookbook when I was younger. She gave me the updated Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding gift, but I don't like it as much. Our favorite cookie to make out of that book was the toffee bars. The Mexican wedding cake cookies look good.

Celine said...

yummay! and easily veganized too. bookmarked!

Deborah said...

These look delicious. I have had them several times, but have never made them myself. I find that as I get older, my tastes have changed a bit and I like things that I didn't like when I was younger.

Anh said...

Yummy! I haven't had this for the longest time.

lynn said...

Yummy! I love these cookies, even though they are outside of my soft, squishy cookie norm. They're kind of addictive.

Patricia Scarpin said...

I have read about these so many times, yours look wonderful!

eatme_delicious said...

andrea: Are the recipes different in the updated book? I've seen it and wondered about it. I'll have to search for the toffee bars!

celine: Yaey. :) Hope the vegan version turns out well!

deborah: Thank you! Me too (for liking things now that I didn't like when I was younger). Though with these cookies, I think it's the butter (I found out my mom does use margarine) and Mexican vanilla combination. :)

anh: :) Thanks.

lynn: Yum squishy cookies...

Cakespy said...

Being a big cookie lover myself, I wonder if there's a way to make jumbo ones. I guess it's a mental thing but I'd rather have one big cookie than three little ones!

eatme_delicious said...

cakespy: I love big cookies too, but I'm not sure these particular ones would work out well as giant cookies. I imagine the inside of the dough would not be completely cooked, or if it was cooked the outside would be really dry. Let me know if you do try it though how it turns out!

too_simple_for_words said...

Hi, i LOVE these cookies. any thoughts as to whether i could substitute some splenda in with the mixed sugar, leaving the dusting as confectioner's. also do you think a little whole wheat flour could be used?

I know i'll have to experiment, but any feedback appreciated.

eatme_delicious said...

too_simple_for_words: I've never baked with splenda so I'm not sure. Maybe try 1/3 splenda 2/3 regular sugar to start or something? Same thing with the whole wheat flour. Good luck. :)

Spurls said...

My Betty Crocker cookbook looks EXACTLY like that... all worn and tattered... Get out of my kitchen!! :-)

eatme_delicious said...

Spurls: Haha that's awesome. :)

Ev said...

And they would go nicely on a tray with Velvety Mexican Chocolate Cookies:

http://evieskitchen.blogspot.com

eatme_delicious said...

ev: Yes they definitely would. :)

Denise said...

I've been making these for years and on occassion in a rush to get through the triple? batch of dough (you just can't have too many of these) I have made them larger....they cook just fine but tend to be messier to eat with powdered sugar going all over the place if you are biting them vs. just popping them into your mouth whole..I think too because the dough itself is not really that sweet that they need to be a certain small size to get the benefits of the powdered sugar coating..

Marr said...

I just got up this morning and made a batch, first thing. Sadly, I'm a bit of a clutz with cooking and I used a little too much butter, by the looks of things. What were supposed to be balls turned out into fairly flat cookies! I really need to learn to measure by cups properly.

Still, very delicious. I'm enjoying them all the same!

Melanie said...

I need help! I've made these before just fine, but today they did not turn out and all I have is a bowl of crumbly mixture that will not form a ball. Only thing I did differently was to not cream the butter, sugar and VANILLA, but added the vanilla later. Also, I used butter and not margarine. Can I save this?

eatme_delicious said...

Melanie: Hm if the dough won't form into balls, I would either add some liquid (like milk) or just press the dough into a 9x13 pan or something and bake it like that. Good luck!