Cinco de Mayo Desserts: Mexican Wedding Cookies

As a resident of California (and San Francisco specifically), I've been lucky enough to always have delish Mexican food at my fingertips.  Save for tacos de lengua (no gracias Señor), I love all Mexican comida, especially their desserts.

When a friend decided host a little Cinco de Mayo bash, I wanted to contribute a treat but was short on time. Enter Mexican Wedding Cookies. These shortbread-like cookies use chopped almonds for crunch, and are rolled in powdered sugar for a little extra sweetness. They are very very similar to Russian Tea Cakes depending on the recipe that you're using. Some Mexican Wedding Cookies incorporate cinnamon, some don't. Either way, they are delicious.

The first time I made these cookies was in 8th grade for my Spanish class. I share this only to point out that these cookies aren't complicated - I was no Betty Crocker then. The best part is that they don't require any fancy ingredients and use things most regular bakers will have in their pantry 365 days a year. 


Ingredients - Adapted from David Lebovitz's "Ready for Dessert" 

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped (you can use other nuts like pecans)
  • Powdered sugar, for coating the cookies
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. With a whisk gently mix to break up any lumps (lazy man's version of using a sifter).

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Stir in half of the flour and the salt, then add the water. Mix in the remaining flour and the chopped almonds. 

At this point the dough will look extremely crumbly, but don't fret!  Like a shortbread, the dough will come together once pressed. 

Using your hands, form the dough into 1-inch balls and place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. These cookies don't expand much when baked, so if you need to squeeze a few more in, there isn't much risk they will run into each other. 

Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway through baking, until the cookies feel almost, but not quite, firm, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheets. 

Shift some powdered sugar into a bowl - add a dash of cinnamon and whisk to combine. Toss the cooled cookies a few at a time in the sugar until completely coated with a thick layer (there isn't much sugar in the cookie dough so don't worry about over doing it).