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to wed

Recipe: mexican wedding cookies

Yeah, I’ll pick u up! 1:15?

I looked at the text message on my iphone and then put it away. If Beth says 1:15, then she’ll more likely arrive around 1:30. That’s fine. We’d have plenty of time to get to the wedding. Plus it would be good to see Beth. I joked on Facebook that I was flying out to Seattle to see Beth, who lives 30 minutes away from me in Boulder. I hardly saw her all summer – we’ve both been so busy – but now she was going to be my date to the wedding since both of our fellas couldn’t make the trip.

By 1:45 I was starting to worry, but there she appeared and we hopped into the car!

“So do you know where the wedding is?” Beth asked as she began to drive in a general northwest direction. I navigated from my phone map and we were doing fine until the draw bridge began to… draw… up.

“Was 2:00 when we were supposed to get there or when the ceremony starts?” I asked. Eventually the boat passed under the bridge. Eventually we began moving again. When we made it to the park, Beth changed into her dress while I blocked the view between passersby and the driver’s seat. Just as she changed her shoes, I noticed a stream of people file out of the bathhouse toward the beach.

“Beth! Let’s go!!”

We hustled after the line and stood among familiar smiling faces. I dropped my pack in the sand and loaded my cameras, grateful for the moment that I wasn’t the hired photographer for this wedding. My dear friends, Andrew and Nicole, entered the grove of trees.

loved ones look on

listening to the welcome

exchanging vows

sealing the deal

As most of my friends know, I am not a fan of weddings. Perhaps I’m mellowing with age (doubtful) or maybe it’s because the people I’m closest to seem to throw the weddings that are the least offensive to my sensibilities – but it was a beautiful ceremony and I found myself suddenly overcome with happiness for my friends. I learned something that day. I can’t manual focus to save my life when my vision is blurred by tears.

amazing pizzas

andrea is diggin’ the ice cream

the bride gets her dessert

Back in the bathhouse, there were appetizers, wine, and beer. Andrew and Nicole are quite the beer aficionados. Instead of champagne flutes, they had crystal beer flutes. Dinner was catered by some terrific portable wood-fired oven pizza folks Veraci Pizza (thanks for the link, Nicole!) and the Molly Moon ice cream truck (same dude who served us at IFBC 2010!). Honestly, some of the better food I’ve enjoyed at a wedding. I ate five pieces of pizza… hey, they were super thin crust!

the bride is allowed some help while slack-lining

beth partakes in throwing disc

cute little baby gets in on the beach fun too

After slurping down their ice creams (in my case: watermelon sorbet), people wandered over to the slack line, grabbed frisbees from the box, took out the bocce ball set (a game you can play with a beer in your hand), and generally expanded out onto the beach. The National Weather Service said it would rain and then Sunday morning “PSYCHE!” – they changed the forecast to partly cloudy with a little glowing sun peeking through the clouds as their icon.

dahlias as the sun dropped toward the ocean

congratulations, you two! xo

So when I made these cookies last week, I had not made the connection between the name Mexican wedding cookies and the fact that I was about to attend a wedding. It’s curious because I don’t make cookies all that much any more and because I generally don’t attend weddings unless I’m shooting them. Actually, these are also known as Russian tea cakes or pecan sandies rolled in powdered sugar. I informed Nicole and several others that this would be the next recipe on the blog and everyone sort of moaned “I love those cookies!”

the nut: pecans

buttah, flour, powdered sugar

I always think that I don’t love these cookies because they are shortbready which makes me think “dry”. But then I make a batch and eat one for quality control and I’m surprised at how good they are. Well, it is probably in my best interest that I keep thinking they aren’t a lovely little morsel to pop in your mouth. However, I implore you to make these if you haven’t tried them yet. They’re super easy to make too.

some homemade vanilla

the chopped pecans

The original recipe rolls the dough into little balls and leaves them that way on the baking sheet. That’s a ball, not a cookie. I guess I’m shapist, but I want my cookie to be more of a fat disc. I just consulted with Jeremy on this and we determined that the shape I’m referring to is in fact, NOT an oblate spheroid, but more of a torus with the hole filled in. We were unaware of any proper term referring to the shape, so I will settle with fat disc. In any case, that’s how I like my Mexican wedding cookies (I also think they bake more evenly this way).

pluck the dough and roll

squash into a fat disc

When you bake the cookies, I suggest selecting a few sacrificial lambs because underbaking leaves the center a little doughy and overbaking dries the whole thing out. As the bottoms turn golden, break one open to check how done it is. It’s a pretty forgiving cookie, so don’t worry too much.

cooling (yeah, these don’t qualify as oblate spheroids)

roll in powdered sugar

Jeremy was kind enough to sample these with coffee and with tea. He thinks they’re better paired with tea (the boy drinks Earl Grey, by the way), which might explain the Russian tea cakes name? When you eat these, take care if you are wearing dark colored clothing, because they have a tendency to dust you with powdered sugar. I used to bake these and bring them in to the office or my department and I’d see trails of powdered sugar leading away from the cookies.

worth the mess

Mexican Wedding Cookies (aka Russian Tea Cakes)
[print recipe]

2 1/4 cups (315 g) flour
1/3 cup (45 g) powdered sugar
8 oz. butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp water
1 cup (~100 g) pecans, chopped fine
1 cup extra powdered sugar for rolling/dusting

Heat oven to 325°F. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat for 30 seconds. Add half of the flour, powdered sugar, vanilla, and water. Beat until blended then beat in the rest of the flour. Stir in the nuts. Pinch off dough and form 1-inch diameter balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. I like to flatten the dough balls a little with the base of a glass. Bake 20-25 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and cool on cooking rack. When cookies are cooled, roll in powdered sugar. Makes 36 cookies.

37 nibbles at “to wed”

  1. Wei-Wei says:

    Congratulations to the happy couple! It’s a beautiful, beachy wedding. Love those. :) (The cookies look amazing…)

  2. Phoo-D says:

    What a gorgeous wedding location. I love that they had beer and ice cream instead of cake. You know how to pick fun friends! These are a type of cookie I have a hard time resisting and I have never made them at home. They look perfect.

  3. Kristin says:

    I find your shape more appealing than the balls I form, but I have to admit that I like the center a bit doughy, & fear they’d cook more if I flattened them.

  4. Andrea Meyers says:

    What a fun wedding! And your little cookies are calling my name, I adore those.

  5. Helene says:

    Seriously some of the coolest weddings ideas I’ve seen in a while – so creative! Glad you had a great time!

  6. marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    Such a happy post to read this morning! Good thing you enjoyed 5 pieces of that thin crust pizza, it looks amazing. Congrats to your friends, such a beautiful wedding ceremony & very creative. Love the ice cream truck, what a treat. Gorgeous photos Jen. That little guy lying in the sand is precious!! Your mexican wedding cookies sound delicious. xo

  7. Ronine says:

    Just the kind of wedding I like. Now if we only lived somewhere with a nice beach…!

  8. Cheryl Arkison says:

    We had Mexican wedding cookies at our wedding. Neither of us are Mexican though. But my mom was living on the border in Texas at the time and it seemed to be a fitting touch.

  9. Charlie says:

    That really does look like a fun wedding. I love the ceremonies that are relaxed and actually fit the couple’s personality.

    I will be making some Mexican Wedding Cakes this weekend. My expanding waistline thanks you!

  10. Ruth Ann says:

    The wedding and your friends looked like a lot of fun.
    I love those cookies and I have never actually made them. The pictures look so tasty that I think that I might have to make a few of these “oblate spheroids/ torii with the holes filled in” soon.

  11. Joy says:

    I love how mellow the wedding was. It looks like it was a great wedding. I love the recipe.

  12. Chris says:

    Congrats! You must try the Southwest version of these wedding cookies, biscochos. They are made with lard which makes them melt in your mouth. Nothing else can compare. Great photos btw

  13. Anh Rohrbach says:

    The wedding was very simple and beautiful…Food choices was so so unique …
    By far Mexican wedding cookies is my 3 kid’s favorite ….During Christmas season, I make many many batches because it is the only cookie will disappear first. Thanks Jen for sharing.

  14. heather says:

    mexican wedding cake cookies are a classic! and what a wedding! my fiancee and i considered serving fresh-baked brick oven pizzas at our wedding, but thinking it’d be too risky, have decided to serve risotto instead. ha, as if that’s less risky.



  15. Kristin says:

    I have just kind of discovered your blog. Curious, though… I want to print the recipe. Is that not possible? I can’t even copy and paste the text. Please let me know.


  16. Lezly says:

    I’m from Seattle and I LOVE that idea of Beer and MOLLY MOON’S ice cream for a wedding. Their wedding pics are beautiful and I actually got a little teary eyed looking at them. Those cookies look AMAZING. It’s one of those cookies that you just can’t have 1 of lol

  17. Nicole says:

    Those drawbridges will get you every time :) Lovely post, Jen, thanks. And FYI the wedding was catered by Veraci Pizza! (

  18. Fran says:

    I love these cookies and have known them as Mexican Wedding Cakes and Russian Tea Cakes. Either way, they’re unassuming melt-in-your mouth delicacies of butter, flour and nuts that are addictive.

    Love the wedding story and shots.

  19. Joanne at Frutto della Passione says:

    I love the picture of her putting his wedding band on his finger! And the baby crawling, that was adorable. I make my own vanilla extract too. I have to because you can’t find it in Italy. I think I might make these for my husband for our anniversary.

  20. dasunrisin says:

    Wow– that wedding looks amazing. What a wonderful celebration! Thank you for sharing your lovely pictures.

  21. barbara says:

    This wedding is perfect for Chris and Maria. They are having a Greek wedding in Montreal with her family, followed by a beach wedding here. Pizzas and icecream, frisbies on the beach is so them.

    I like the addition of nuts to these cookies.

  22. Alison says:

    Russian tea cakes are the only cookie I absolutely have to make at Christmas time (long-standing family tradition). My family has always made them with walnuts, not pecans.

  23. eemilla says:

    Oh my grandmother used to make these, but she would spread them over a cookie sheet then cut them into long rectangles before cooling them and sifting them with powdered sugar. She called them nutty fingers.

  24. Sherene @ Caribbean Recipe Kits says:

    This is a beautiful wedding, nice and earthy with good food, did anyone else notice the crisp rusting crust on that pizza mmmmm.

  25. Sherene @ Caribbean Recipe Kits says:

    Sorry guys meant to say RUSTIC :0D

  26. Michelle says:

    What a lovely wedding and I love the unpretentious but totally yummy food and drink choices!

    We bake those cookies every Christmas and call them “Melting Moments”.

  27. Ali says:

    can you just put up a general “like” button, already? would save some typing. you are so sweet even in your attempt to seem off-put by weddings. And good mexican wedding cookies? They’ll give you an extra star in your heavenly crown.

  28. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand says:

    I hope never to get married again, being very happy in the marriage I have now, but if I do I sure hope you’ll be there. Every place you go seems lit up from the inside. There’s joy, there’s love, there’s fun, and there’s really excellent food. I want in.

  29. Alyson says:

    I love weddings that really reflect the couple and aren’t about holding with tradition. That one looked just so lovely and sweet.

    The cookies look delicious too!

  30. Lucie says:

    I’m a huge fan of the tender, buttery crumb of Mexican wedding cookies. They’re perfect with tea when you feel like having something sweet! The pictures of the wedding are beautiful, and definitely great inspiration for a laid-back, fun-for-all perfect time.

  31. Patricia Scarpin says:

    I’ll ask Joao if he’ll marry me again just so you can photograph the wedding, Jen. ;)

    Lovely cookies, beautiful people, happy atmosphere. Perfect! And oh, I’m in love with the bride’s wedding dress. Absolutely gorgeous!

  32. Deb in Indiana says:

    Thank you for reminding me that it is getting colder and I should make these cookies.

    I believe the shape is described as “cookie-shaped.”

  33. Global Province Smith says:

    we are told you are an interesting lady with a dog. at first blush, we very much like your website. rushing off to thigns but look forward to peeking in detail. ours is a springer spaniel. talk soon.

  34. Global Province Smith says:

    oh, and by the way, did you learn your butter from craig claiborne, julia, or one of the new stars. i understand there is an ample mama cass type cook on tv now who lathers on the butter

  35. jenyu says:

    Chris – yeah, in New Mexico they call them biscochitos and my MIL makes them every holiday season. They’re a little different (rolled in sugar and cinnamon). My MIL cuts them out into little bear shapes :)

    Kristin – you can print the recipe if you highlight the text, copy it (using CTRL-C or CMD-C) and paste it. Sorry, no time to convert to printable in the near future :(

    Nicole – thanks, sweetie. Congratulations to both of you. xoxo

    Barbara – Will you be traveling to Montreal for the Greek wedding? I think the Aussie wedding sounds lovely :)

    Ali – ;) I think I just like the weddings of my friends who have similarly aligned tastes to mine!

    Tamar – I’ll be there, babe. You bet I’ll be there. xo

    Patricia – oh sweetie! You’re just too cute.

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