Mexican Wedding Cookies (Polvorones)
Mexican wedding cookies, like turnovers, have many variations found around the world. Many of us know them as polvorones, pan de polvo, Russian tea cakes, or just plain old snowballs. Further afield, variations include kourabiedes (Greek) and ciastke kurche (Polish). You’ll find many more, but by any name, they’re a tiny explosion of sweetness that will leave you wanting just one more bite. Traditionally, they’re piled on tables, or placed in small packets of pretty paper called papél de china.
For holidays and special occasions, hosts may prepare them in small bundles as parting gifts for their guests. In fact, these are a terrific post holiday “thank you” gifts for the New Year. That’s why I’ve prepared two versions of these favorites. One’s a decadent delight for the holidays – with traditional ingredients. The second is a sugar-free version that retains all the melt-in-your-mouth flavors, but with much less guilt. When calories start to count at the New Year, we can still have our indulgences.
Presentation is also part of the fun. With a few colorful ribbons and food-grade bags or containers, these make delightful packages for delivery any time of year. For extra flair inside the bags, toss in some colored sprinkles or other edible adornments that coordinate with the season or a special theme. These little wedding cookies freeze well, too, so go ahead and make up a large batch and you’ll be prepared.
A few tips that may be helpful:
–You can substitute less-expensive walnuts for traditional pecans. Always let the nuts cool after toasting; otherwise, they can become gummy. Add flour in the food processor when grinding to absorb the oils.
–Cooking times can vary – check them frequently. Break one open and if there’s a small area inside that’s not quite done, don’t worry. They’ll firm up while cooling.
–Also, the trick in getting a beautiful powdery coating is to toss them in powdered sugar while they’re still warm, then give a sprinkle after they’ve cooled. Avoid using plastic bags for tossing; warm cookies will melt the plastic.
–One last note: don’t be put off by the addition of cornstarch to Splenda in the sugar-free version. That’s a standard ingredient in confectioner’s sugar, too.