Friday, May 4, 2012

Did Someone Say, "Fiesta?"

Concluding my week of classic Mexican recipes to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I must include my favorite recipe for "Pastelitos de Boda," which translates to "Wedding Cakes." These cookies are often called "Polvorones" or "Pan de Polvo," from the Spanish word "polvo" meaning "dust," referring to the distinctive crumbly texture, or to the "dusting" of powdered sugar. However, polvorones refers to a class of sweets, in which pastelitos de boda belongs.

The origins of these little shortbread cookies is equally confusing. It is believed that these delicacies made their way to Mexico via Spain, and the region of Andalusia, in particular. However, some consider them of Middle Eastern origin. If that's not enough, they are particularly popular in the Phillipines, where they add dried milk to the mix! Ever heard of "Russian Tea Cakes?" Same thing! Ever heard of "Snowball Cookies?" Same thing! I guess they are present in cultures around the world, so who cares what you call them! I call them delicious! 
Individually wrapped in colored tissue paper makes them very festive indeed!

Pastelitos de Boda (Mexican Wedding Cookies):

Makes about 3 dozen


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely ground
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla extract, beat until well blended. Beat in the flour, then the pecans. Divide the dough in half, form each half into a ball. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the remaining sugar and cinnamon together in a pie plate. Set aside.

Working with half of the chilled dough, roll 2 teaspoonfuls of dough between your palms into balls. Arrange on a cookie sheet, spacing 1/2" apart. 

Bake the cookies until golden brown on the bottom and just pale golden on the top, about 18 minutes. 

Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then, gently toss the warm cookies in the cinnamon sugar mixture to completely coat. 

Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookies. 

To serve, place them on a round serving dish in a pyramid shape. Dust with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Delicious!

Optional: To wrap them individually, use 5"x6" rectangles of tissue paper, cut into "fringes" on the ends. 

Just roll them up and twist the ends! How cute! 

*(White paper for weddings, bright colors for parties, and red and green for Christmas!)

**Can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored airtight at room temperature.

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