POSTED IN: Recipes , Desserts
TAGS: Butter , Cakes , Confectioners , Cookie , Cookies , Food , Mexican , Pecans , Polvoron , Polvorones , Shortening , Sugar , Wedding
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I had never heard the name Mexican Wedding Cookies.
I was born and raised in Mexico City. I lived there all my life until I married my husband, another Mexican, and moved to the U.S.
There were no Mexican Wedding Cookies at our Mexican wedding (though there were a ton of roosters doing their Cock a Doodle Do thing next door, which made it hard for us to say our vows real loud...). Nor were there any of those cookies, at any wedding in Mexico that I have ever attended. None.
The first time I heard the name Mexican Wedding Cookie was once we moved to Washington D.C. Since then, I have been asked about them continuously. What's more, once I started my blog, I began to receive a lot of requests, via lovely emails, for their recipe.
It took me a while to realize that those Mexican Wedding Cookies, so liked this side of the border, are what I love and know as Polvorones. One of Mexico's most popular treats, consumed on an every day basis, and found in just about every Panadería (bakery) and any grocery store throughout the whole country.
The name Polvorón seems to come from the word Polvo, which translates to dust or powder. Maybe because these cookies break into the finest of crumbs the moment they touch your mouth. And as you take a bite, they seem to melt and disappear.
They come in many flavors: plain, pecan, peanut, vanilla, cinnamon and even chocolate, to name some. I go for pecans.
Since the cookie is so light, pecans add a nice and nutty depth of flavor, as well as an extra crunch.
Just grind the pecans using a food processor or blender. You can also chop them finely. My mother has an old fashioned nut grinder, which looks like a small mill or molino. It is a real find. I should have convinced her to give it to me as a wedding gift, now that we are talking about weddings....
Whichever way you decide to finely chop or grind them, mix them with the confectioners's sugar.
It is the addition of this kind of sugar which gives these cookies that airy quality and that peculiar light sweet taste.
They are similar to shortbread cookies, and as such, can be made in a bowl and mixed with your hands. Aside from being a quick and fun method, it is practical in a busy kitchen. Very few things to wash...
So grab a large mixing bowl and stir in the flour and salt. Cut your cold butter into small chunks and spoon in the vegetable shortening in teaspoon amounts.
Dive in with your hands, and work in the butter and vegetable shortening into the flour with your fingers.
In no time, you will get this nice flaky crumbly dough.
Add in the sugar and pecan mixture. Work it in...
Crack an egg. Mix it in. It will help the dough come together.
Knead the dough until you can turn it into a ball. Don't overwork the dough. You know that you need to stop as soon as you can turn it into a ball. No need to refrigerate if you stopped in time.
You know you overworked the dough if it becomes very, very greasy. The warmth of your hands will do that if work the dough for too long.
Start making the cookies by grabbing small amounts of the dough and making 1 to 1 1/2" balls. If you over worked the dough, your hands will be too greasy and it will be hard to make the balls. If that is the case, just place the dough in the refrigerator, covered, for 15 minutes... No worries, that will fix it.
Place the balls on a buttered baking sheet, and gently tap each ball as you lay them out.
Super easy! Kids can do this with you.
Once you are done rolling out enough cookies to fill a baking sheet or tray, place them into the oven for about 15 minutes.
They will come out all golden and delicious.
See that one that looks a bit burned and not so happy? That's because I overworked the dough in that single ball to show you what it would look like.
That's why its good to know when to stop...
Once out, dust them with extra confectioners' sugar. The more, the better. Go ahead, go wild and dust until you have had enough... These cookies can take it because the dough is barely sweet and they are meant to be showered in that extra sugar.
In Mexico, you can find them as the original Spanish cookies (Spaniards are to blame you know, they are the ones who brought them to Mexico), which are flatter, bigger and wider. But you can also find them in some small artisanal shops, in that smaller ball shape all wrapped in beautiful thin colored wrapping paper, with the ends twisted. As if they were little candies, or gifts, to unwrap.
Polvorones are deceiving. They look hard on the outside. But go ahead and take a bite.
You may understand, like I recently did, why they have been called Mexican Wedding Cookies here in the U.S.
That's how special they are.
MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES
Makes about 30
2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup pecans, grounded or finely chopped
3/4 cup confectioners sugar, plus more to dust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a food processor, blender, nut mill or knife, finely chop the pecans. Add the powdered sugar to the processor or blender (if that's what you used) and grind or chop. If done by hand, just mix together.
Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Drop in the chunks of butter and the vegetable shortening in teaspoon amounts. Begin to mix with your hands, until the butter and vegetable shortening are mixed in with the flour and salt. The mixture will turn into a coarse dough, with chunks of butter and shortening mixed throughout.
Add in the sugar and pecan mixture and work it all in. Crack the egg into the mixture thoroughly combine, using your hands. In less than a minute, the dough should be soft and malleable enough to be turned into a ball. Don't knead more than necessary, you just want it to come together into a homogeneous mass.
Butter a large cookie sheet. One by one, make small balls of dough with the palms of your hands. The dough ball should be between 1 and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place them on a baking sheet with about 1 inch in between the dough balls. Bake them for about 15 to 16 minutes, until they have a golden brown color.
Dust extra confectioners sugar over the top of the cookies and eat and serve.
Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful!!!Gary Robinson | December 20, 2010 2:08 PM
It's funny. We have a family recipe with almost the same exact ingredients but we call them Viennese Crescents. The only difference is we add vanilla and we shape the dough into half moons. The cookies are blanketed in powdered sugar and they are supposed to be kept in a jar for a week with vanilla beans, but they always get eaten. I had planned to make some today! Chow for now and Feliz Navidad.Kristin | December 22, 2010 11:47 AM
Feliz Navidad to you and your family. Really enjoy your site and thanks for sharing the cookie recipe. The first time I encountered these cookies was when they were being made by one of the women in our pueblito in Chihuahua for a wedding that weekend. I had forgotten about this lovely memory until I saw your post on this cookie. Anyhoot, keep up the great work!Diana | December 22, 2010 6:44 PM
Oooooh... I've been waiting for this one! Easier than I thought and again thank you so much for your posts Pati. Feliz Navidad!Matt | December 23, 2010 6:46 PM
Hi Kristin, I assume almost every country must have its own version... Storing them with vanilla beans though, sounds like a special treat!Pati Jinich replied to comment from Kristin | December 23, 2010 6:58 PM
We also ate them in Chihuahua when we visited last year too!!
It is my pleasure Matt. Feliz Navidad to you too!!!Pati Jinich replied to comment from Matt | December 23, 2010 7:02 PM
We made these in my cooking class about a month ago -- it was part of the "convent cooking" lesson. We used butter instead of lard, and the cookies were super over-the-top pork-tasting. (I guess the nuns didn't used to mind if their cookies tasted like pork?) I like the butter idea much better. Will have to try that instead!Lesley | January 7, 2011 10:07 PM
It is incredible how many of the Mexican traditional desserts have been made with lard. It was practically standard practice a long time ago! Trends have changed though... some cooks have switched to vegetable shortening, some to butter, some are devoted to the feel and flavor of lard. In many cases I like to combine vegetable shortening and butter. But for some savory things, like some tamales, it seems that lard has no match...
These are my Only daughter's favorite cookies. We moved to the US when she was 6 and old enough to remember all her favorite shops and the smells of her true hometown. She ended up marrying an American and with so many traditions being debated she begged me for this comfort food of her childhood. Her wedding was a powder mix- 13 years later I still bake them on their anniversary. I'm happy you clarified th cookie to you follower's!Busybee | March 20, 2011 12:04 AM
What a lovely tradition!Pati Jinich replied to comment from Busybee | March 20, 2011 5:44 PM
In our family we call them snowball cookies.. a number 1 favorite of mine and the family....every Christmas we make two different kinds one with the nuts and one without for those who have allergies...They are always the first to go......Tina | April 9, 2011 10:13 PM
Hi Pati! These cookies look delightful! However, when I think of Mexican wedding cookies, these are not what I picture. My Tia Gloria makes these shortbread-like cookies with cinnamon and sugar. Those are what my family and I have grown up calling them. They are almost always in the shape of hearts and are absolutely wonderful. She made, and in recent years, bought, these cookies for every wedding, anniversary and holiday. Do you have any idea what I'm even taking about? Lol. I'm loving your show on PBS by the way!Pilar | April 23, 2011 1:15 PM
Veo tu show en PBS y me encanta. Soy de Ecuador pero me gusta mucho la comidan Mexicana y a mi esposo que es Norteamericano tambien.
La primera vez que te vi fue en el show con Paula Deen.
| May 7, 2011 1:03 AM
I love it like my granmother recipe.
Yes! I've seen Mexican Wedding Cookies in many shapes, in Mexico they are most often in the shape of circles, but I have seen them in heart shapes too. Glad you are enjoying the show!
You should market the music that you play during the taping of the show; it ios real romantic and makes me want to dance too.Joe | June 28, 2011 2:19 PM
hola! Acabo de descubrirte en la tele haciendo garibaldis!!! ME encoanto tu programa!
Yo soy regia y casada con un chilango y con mis tres hijos chilangos! AMo la cocina y obvio massss la mexicana!
Me da mucho gusto que hayas logrado tanto con tu amor por la cocina.
Yo ahora vivo en San Antonio y estoy feliz, con mas tiempo para cocinar que en Monterrey, aunque alla tenia ayuda para recoger todo el mugrero que hacia al cocinar:( ... jajaj
EStoy leyendo tu articulo de los polvorones y me da risa lo de "mexican wedding cookies" !!! yo siempre he pensado lo mismoooooo! En algun libro me los tope llamados Italian wedding cookies, asi que a todos los latinos nos enjaretan lo de "wedding" jajajja.
ESpero volverte a ver en la tele y si no, pues ya tengo tu pag..!
felicidades y enhorabuena!!!!
Myriammyriam | July 12, 2011 7:38 PM
discovered you on tv and was so engrossed with your recipes,charm of speaking as well as clariness. i am interested in the recipes shown in the New York area on July 30. any possibility of sending the recipes to me or putting them on your web site?
norma assantenorma assante | August 1, 2011 1:01 PM
I am in love again, you make me feel young just watching you! of course the food has a lot to do with that! but hey your just as spicy as the food!!
Love the show, a breath of fresh air!
BillyBill | August 27, 2011 11:47 AM
You are too funny Bill! Thank you for watching the show.Pati Jinich replied to comment from Bill | August 28, 2011 9:18 PM
Today is the first time I've seen your show but I loved it. I love mexican food, its one of my weaknesses. For these cookies if I wanted to do them with vanilla or cinnamon do I just leave out the pecans and add in either vanilla extract or cinnamon?
Thanks so much!
JessicaJessica | September 2, 2011 4:21 PM
Hi Pati, I am excited to try this recipe...I have been looking for a recipe for a cookie that we (S.Texas) call "Pan de Polvo", I have also heard them called Ojarascas (??). My Mother says that it is the same basic recipe. They are very delicate cookies that are usually cut out or made in a cookie press with bits of Canela & covered in canela & azucar. I would greatly appreciate it if you could clarify this for me & if you have a recipe for them post it. Felicidades en tu programa, magnifico!!!Laura | December 9, 2011 3:09 PM
Hola Laura, Yes, I agree with your mother. There are many variations of this recipe that share the same basic ingredients but are known as different names. The Hojarascas are similar to the Mexican Wedding Cookies, so much so, you can say they are a version of each other :)Pati Jinich replied to comment from Laura | December 16, 2011 11:51 AM
I love these cookies but didnt understand why they call them Mexican Wedding Cookies as well. I was born and raised in the US but I've been to my share of Mexican weddings and gatherings and not once have I seen those cookies.
Thanks for the recipe. I'm going to make them for New Years Eve.
God Bless!Sally Vasquez | December 20, 2011 1:02 PM
I love these cookies, and was delighted to read in your article that they come in many different varieties! I've only known them with pecans, so I'm excited to try some of the other versions.
Cinnamon and Chocolate both sound amazing.
I was curious if you might be able to post these two variant recipes sometime?
Thanks! ...and my wife and I love your PBS show! We moved away from our birthplace of Phoenix, AZ to the Pacific NW recently. Ever since, it's been nice to find shows like yours. For us, you help bring a little bit of home back.
Thank you so much for your kind words Bob! I will be sure to post soon with the variant recipes.Pati Jinich replied to comment from Bob | January 25, 2012 3:41 PM
Me encanto su receta son muy comunes en el Estado de Nuevo Leon, Mexico, donde yo naci, pero se llaman "'pan de boda"'y se hacen de diferentes formas o moldes y se les pone azucar con canela molida en lugar de azucar glass, y la costumbre era regalarle a los padrinos de la boda cajas de esas galletas.. Me hizo recordar esa hermosa tradicion Saludos .perdon por escribir en español
A pues Idalia! Suena deliciosa esa versión con azúcar y canela. Y que bonita tradición, espero algún día probarlas por ahí, directo en NL. Saludos!Pati Jinich replied to comment from IdaliaMendoza | September 3, 2012 10:37 PM
Pati, I have just finished whipping these up and they are amazing. These are not like my grandmother's. Your recipe is light and moist. Thank you so much for sharing.Denise G | September 23, 2012 4:42 PM
Hola Denise, Thank you for trying my wedding cookie recipe! I'm glad to hear you are enjoying them. I'm sure your grandmother's are amazing as well.Pati Jinich replied to comment from Denise G | September 26, 2012 10:14 AM
esa receta la conosco de chihuahua les dicen biscochos y si se acostumbra dar en las bodas las hay de nues y los famosos biscochos de canela los de nuez yo los hago pero sin manteca pura mantequilla son deliciosos
gloria estrada flotte
| November 7, 2012 10:10 PM
These cookies in all their variety are called "resposteria" in Chihuahua and they are served on special occasions such as in weddings, bridal showers, quinceaneras, Christmas, baby showers, etc. I remember when I was little sitting around the table with my cousins and making the little balls, it was our Christmas tradition. Reposteria or wedding cookies are delicious and delicate. Wedding cookies might be a thing from the north of Mexico and not from the center/south.lexy | November 16, 2012 5:03 PM
Hola Lexy, Thank you for writing me. This is great to know. In my experience, I've found wedding cookies throughout Mexico. All the best to you.Pati Jinich replied to comment from lexy | November 29, 2012 1:37 PM
Pati, I work in a bakery which sells these cookies. They are tasty but dense. Your recipe is amazing! We are all lucky to be able to access you wonderful recipes. Thanks for sharing!Erica | December 13, 2012 9:39 PM
Thank you, Erica! I'm glad to hear they are making these lovely cookies in bakeries in the US!!Pati Jinich replied to comment from Erica | December 19, 2012 5:05 PM
Just made these yummy cookies! So easy and quiet( no mixer!)
My mother in law,Alice, will love them. I will send some to her in Albuquerque ASAP.
I was a bit short on pecans and added some toasted almonds,bueno;-)I love your website and added your book to my Christmas list.
best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy new year.
Muchos muchos gracias
Had to tell you that I made these wedding cookies and the next day my daughter Jessica and her beau Robbie announced their engagement;-)
I don't think so!
Hola Patty, Thank you so much for sharing! It sounds like the cookies were prophetic. Congratulations to your daughter!!Pati Jinich replied to comment from Patty Gabriel | January 2, 2013 5:32 PM
I grew up with a version of this cookie; the ingredients are the same except for the egg though the amounts called for (flour, powdered sugar, etc) vary. They were a Betty Crocker cookie called Russian Teacakes. I am a big fan of the show and cannot wait for the cookbook to come out.
FaronFaron Holloway | January 3, 2013 11:37 PM
I'm so glad that you posted this recipe! Two questions: how to store; and how long will they keep fresh? My daughter is having a Mexican fiesta themed bridal shower this coming Cinco de Mayo, and I'd like to know how far in advance I can make them. Thank you! Love your show!Yvonne Velez | January 6, 2013 3:38 PM
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