Mexican wedding cookies, also known as Mexican wedding cakes, are a beloved holiday cookie. They are known for their powdery, crumbly texture and sweet, nutty flavor. Mexican wedding cookies are made with some classic cookie ingredients like flour, butter, and powdered sugar. However, they lack one ingredient commonly found in other cookie recipes – eggs.
What are Mexican Wedding Cookies?
Mexican wedding cookies are round, buttery cookies that are coated in powdered sugar. They have a distinctive sandy, crumbly texture that melts in your mouth. The cookies are not crispy or crunchy. The dough is rolled into balls by hand, baked, and then cooled before being rolled in powdered sugar.
Some key characteristics of Mexican wedding cookies:
- Round shape
- Sandy, crumbly texture
- Powdery exterior from rolled powdered sugar
- Sweet, nutty flavor
- Buttery taste
- Tend to be small, bite-sized cookies
The cookies are sometimes also called “snowball cookies” because of their white powdered sugar coating. They are a beloved holiday treat and are popular at Christmas time, though they are enjoyed year-round.
Common Mexican Wedding Cookie Ingredients
While ingredients can vary a bit between recipes, Mexican wedding cookies are generally made with:
- Flour – All-purpose flour acts as the base of the cookie.
- Butter – Butter gives the cookies their rich, decadent flavor and sandy texture.
- Powdered sugar – Powdered sugar is used to coat the cookies before and after baking.
- Vanilla – Vanilla extract enhances the cookies’ flavor.
- Salt – A small amount of salt balances out the sweetness.
- Chopped nuts – Pecans, walnuts, or almonds add nutty flavor and crunch. Some recipes use almond meal instead of chopped nuts.
So what key ingredient is missing from Mexican wedding cookies?
Mexican Wedding Cookies Lack Eggs
The signature ingredient missing from Mexican wedding cookies is eggs. Most classic cookie recipes call for eggs to help bind the ingredients together. Eggs provide structure, richness, and moisture to baked goods like chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal raisin, and gingerbread cookies. However, Mexican wedding cookies uniquely omit eggs as an ingredient.
Instead, they rely on the combination of butter, flour, and powdered sugar to achieve their signature sandy texture. Let’s analyze the role eggs play in baking and why Mexican wedding cookies leave them out.
Purpose of Eggs in Cookie Baking
Eggs serve several important functions in baking cookies:
- Binding – Eggs help hold the cookie dough together so it doesn’t fall apart.
- Moisture – Eggs add moisture, preventing cookies from becoming dry and crumbly.
- Richness – Egg yolks, in particular, give cookies a fatty, rich taste.
- Color – Eggs contribute to light brown cookie color through the Maillard reaction.
- Rising – Beaten eggs can help cookie dough rise slightly when baked.
- Texture – Eggs give cookies a chewy or crispy texture depending on mixing techniques.
As an ingredient, eggs have unique binding and moistening properties. Omitting eggs means finding ways to compensate with other ingredients.
Why Mexican Wedding Cookies Omit Eggs
Mexican wedding cookies skip eggs in their ingredient list on purpose. The cookies are meant to be sandy, crumbly, and melt-in-your-mouth soft. Eggs would alter the texture, giving them more rise and chewiness.
Eggs bind the flour and butter together into a dough. Without eggs, the flour and butter don’t combine as much. This allows the Mexican wedding cookies to fall apart into delicate, powdery pieces full of air pockets.
The cookies rely on the creaming of butter and sugar to incorporate air into the dough instead of beaten eggs. The high proportion of butter also keeps the cookies tender and moist without requiring eggs. Finally, the generous dusting of powdered sugar compensates for the missing egg moisture and binding.
Delicately crumbling Mexican wedding cookies are a perfect example of how creativity in baking can work around classic ingredients like eggs!
Traditional Recipe and Variations
Mexican wedding cookies have some basic components that are included in nearly every recipe. However, there are also many delicious variations that build on the traditional recipe. Let’s look at a typical recipe, along with some creative spin-offs.
Traditional Mexican Wedding Cookie Recipe
A standard recipe for Mexican wedding cookies includes:
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 1⁄2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1⁄2 cup powdered sugar for rolling
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1⁄2 cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Gradually stir in flour until a dough forms.
- Fold in chopped nuts.
- Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets.
- Bake 8-10 minutes until set but not brown.
- Allow cookies to cool on pan for 5 minutes before rolling in powdered sugar. Roll cooled cookies in powdered sugar again.
This recipe yields about 5 dozen cookies. They will be crumbly, tender, and burst with sweet nutty flavor. The proportions of butter to flour and sugar are designed to perfectly achieve the ideal sandy texture.
Flavored and Filled Variations
While Mexican wedding cookies are delightful in their original form, some exciting variations include:
- Anise or almond extract – Substitute 1 teaspoon of these extracts for the vanilla to add unique new flavors
- Cinnamon and nutmeg – Add a teaspoon of each of these spices to the flour for warmth
- Citrus zest – Mix in 1 teaspoon grated lemon, orange, or lime zest
- Mocha – Replace 1⁄4 cup flour with cocoa powder and add 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
- Jelly – Add dollop of jelly before baking for fruity surprise center
- Chocolate – Stuff with chocolate chips or nutella before baking
- Dulce de leche – Fill rolled center with caramel sauce
- Chocolate powdered sugar – Roll in a mix of powdered sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder
- Cinnamon sugar – Coat cookies in cinnamon sugar instead for a twist
The possibilities are endless when it comes to infusing new flavors and mixes into Mexican wedding cookies. Part of the fun is experimenting to create your own signature variation!
Step-By-Step Baking Instructions
Now that we know which key ingredient Mexican wedding cookies lack, let’s go through a step-by-step guide to bake them to crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth perfection:
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Mixing bowls
- Electric mixer
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheets
- Cooling racks
- Cream butter and powdered sugar: In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes more.
- Mix in vanilla: Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
- Add flour: Turn mixer to low and slowly blend in the flour, a little at a time, until it forms a dough. Mix just until combined.
- Stir in pecans: Use a rubber spatula to fold the chopped pecans into the cookie dough.
- Form balls: Use your hands to roll the dough into 1 inch balls. Place them a few inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- Bake: Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes until set but not browned. The bottoms should look golden.
- Cool and coat: Let cookies cool and firm up on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before coating in powdered sugar. Place the remaining 1 cup powdered sugar in a bowl. Gently roll cookies in the powdered sugar to coat all sides.
- Cool completely: Transfer cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once completely cool, roll in powdered sugar a second time for an extra powdery coating.
The cookies will be crumbly and tender, with the signature taste of butter and nuts. Their powdery texture that flakes apart is what makes them such a memorable holiday treat!
Tips for Perfect Mexican Wedding Cookies
Baking crunchy yet melt-in-your-mouth Mexican wedding cookies takes a light touch. Here are some handy tips for success:
- Use room temperature butter for proper creaming
- Avoid overbeating once flour is added to avoid tough cookies
- Toast nuts lightly for fuller flavor
- Sift powdered sugar for smooth, even coating
- Chill dough for 30 mins for easier shaping
- Keep dough balls uniform in size for even baking
- Bake in convection oven or on center rack for airflow
- Don’t overbake – they will dry out and won’t absorb powdered sugar
Coating and Storing Tips
- Cool cookies fully before coating in powdered sugar
- Gently shake off excess powdered sugar after rolling
- Store cookies in airtight container, separating layers with parchment paper
Follow these simple suggestions and you’ll have perfectly crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth Mexican wedding cookies every time! The eggless dough and generous powdered sugar coating is the secret to their delicious sandy texture.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Mexican wedding cookies:
Why are they called Mexican wedding cookies?
There are a few theories about how Mexican wedding cookies got their name:
- The crumbly, delicate cookies resemble the texture of a wedding cake.
- The powdered sugar coating resembles snow, evoking white wedding themes.
- They were originally served at Mexican weddings in the regions of Coahuila and Chihuahua.
- A Mexican baker created the recipe to cater American weddings.
Whatever the exact origin, the name stuck because the cookies seem suited for celebrating weddings!
Can I make Mexican wedding cookies gluten free?
Yes, you can substitute the regular flour for a gluten-free blend. Make sure to use a blend that includes binding ingredients like xanthan gum to compensate for the missing gluten. The cookies may spread more during baking without gluten to hold them together. Chilling the dough helps keep their shape.
Can I freeze leftover Mexican wedding cookies?
The cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Roll balls of uncooked dough in powdered sugar and freeze on a baking sheet before transferring to an airtight container. Bake frozen cookies by adding 1-2 minutes to the bake time. The powdered sugar finish may become a bit grainy but the cookies still taste delicious!
What kind of nuts work best in the cookies?
Pecans and walnuts are the most traditional choices with their mild, slightly sweet flavor. However, you can also use almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, or pine nuts. Mixing in different types of nuts adds extra flavor and texture variety!
Mexican wedding cookies have a light, delicate texture unlike any other holiday cookie. Their crumbly, sandy mouthfeel comes from omitting eggs as a binding ingredient. Instead, they incorporate air through creaming butter and powdered sugar. Generous coatings of powdered sugar provide the signature snowball appearance and melt-in-your-mouth feel.
While the eggless dough requires a gentle touch, Mexican wedding cookies are simple to whip up for a crowd. Their tender texture and nutty sweetness make them the perfect addition to holiday cookie trays. The next time you want to add variety beyond snickerdoodles or gingerbread, reach for this unique Southwestern treat. Delight friends and family with the sheer, powdery bliss of Mexican wedding cookies!