My husband, Mark, and I both grew up with moms who crafted confectioners sugar-dusted Almond Crescent Cookies, during each holiday season. Following their lead, I made those same cookies for many years as Christmas approached, with one small tweak-because we always have walnuts on hand and rarely purchase almonds, I used walnuts, instead.
Then came the day when I stumbled upon a recipe for Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies. With the addition of cocoa powder and cinnamon, this recipe provided a pleasant 'riff' on the classic recipe. These cookies are still full of butter, but include a little olive oil to reduce the saturated fat a bit. And they have become a new holiday favorite in our house. See if you don't agree!
V.O.E. - Be sure you allow plenty of time to complete this recipe, from start to finish. I had already had a long day when I decided to make the cookies and was then reminded of the need for dough set time in the refrigerator. I ended up going to bed an hour later than usual and grateful for a rerun of 'Titanic' to keep me company. :)
Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies
Makes 2-2 1/2 dozen
1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves, toasted (toast in a 300-degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning once)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1. Place nuts and 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar in the work bowl of a food processor. Process, until nuts are powder-fine.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt and nut mixture.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter, oil, and remaining 3/4 cup of confectioners sugar, until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
4. On low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture just until mixed. Refrigerate dough, tightly covered, for at least one hour and preferably no longer than three hours.
5. Measure dough by 1 1/4-inch scoop or scant measuring tablespoons and roll it between the well-floured palms of your hands to form one inch balls. Place balls 1 1/2 inches apart on unbuttered cookie sheets. Bake in 350-degree oven 16-18 minutes or until set (the tops will dull slightly).
6. Cool cookies on sheets two to three minutes. Combine powdered sugar and cinnamon for coating, at a ratio of 1 cup sugar to 2 teaspoons cinnamon; make more as needed to thoroughly coat all cookies. Roll cookies in confectioners sugar mixture while still hot, coating heavily. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
7. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator, for up to one week, or freeze up to 3 months.
V.O.E. - If your cookies seem a little dry, place 1/2 slice of fresh bread in the cookie container. The bread contributes some moisture that causes the cookies to soften slightly.
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