Sunday, December 7, 2008

12 Cookies of Christmas: Day 7 ~ Pastelitos de Boda (Bride's Cookies)

In searching through the recipes in Gourmet's favorite cookie compilation, I skipped over this one a number of times before I finally decided to stop and take a look. I've eaten cookies fitting this basic description hundreds of times in my life, usually named something like Mexican Wedding Cakes or Russian Tea Cakes. They're okay, pleasant enough to find next to a cup of tea, but they're just not too exciting anymore. There are just so many shortbread balls flavored with pecans and rolled in confectioners' sugar you can eat before your cookie eye starts to wander.

But what ended up catching my attention had nothing to do with the flavor or the ingredients of the cookie. It wasn't until I read through the recipe that I found something intriguing: it was the shape of this cookie that hooked me. The directions say to form the cookies into "1/4-inch-thick rounds" ~ not balls, as the Mexican Wedding Cakes are traditionally sculpted. Hmmm. I liked the idea of this as a patty-shaped cookie. I reread the list of ingredients, the process, and decided that this one was definitely going on my list.

Pastelitos de Boda ~ Bride's Cookies

~Adapted from Gourmet magazine, November 1986, available online here
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional for dusting

  • 1 cup pecans, ground fine

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1 cup butter, softened

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, pecans, and salt. Stir in vanilla and add the butter. Blend until the butter is fully incorporated.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into small balls, then flatten them into 1/4-inch-thick patties. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and arrange the cookies on the sheet, spacing them about 1 inch apart.

  3. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, until just golden around the edges. Remove cookies to racks and let cool for 10 minutes or until barely warm. Dust liberally with confectioners' sugar.

Recipe Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for the dough to be rolled from rounded tablespoons. I prefer a smaller cookie, so I used a teaspoon measure. Either will work fine.

  • Instead of dusting with confectioners' sugar ~ which tends to create blizzard conditions in my kitchen ~ I filled a resealable plastic sandwich bag with 1 cup of powdered sugar and then dropped the cookies in individually and shook them a bit to coat. You can also use a brown paper bag for this, as long as the bottom seem is solid. Don't overcrowd the bag, though, or the cookies will stick together.

  • Be sure to measure the pecans before you grind them. I used my mini food processor to do the job, and I didn't grind them too finely, but to the approximate size of couscous. This adds a bit of texture to the end product, which I like.

  • I strongly recommend using a good quality vanilla in this recipe, as the flavor will be at the forefront.

  • Because of the powdered sugar on these, they don't keep well. If you want to make them in advance, go ahead and bake them but don't sugar them. Cool them and then freeze them in an airtight container. When you're ready to serve, just defrost for 15 minutes at room temp and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Now go see what my fellow bakers are up to today, on this 7th day of Cookies! Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, Kelly of Sass & Veracity, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants, and Judy of No Fear Entertaining.


    Judy@nofearentertaining said...

    Those look wonderful and I love your method for sugaring them. You must have a very neat and clean kitchen...mine for the last 9 days has been a disaster zone!!!

    glamah16 said...

    Great idea about the bag for dusting the cookies! The more we do this the more I can recognize the various cookies type doughs.I need one of those now as I drink my morning cream tea.

    Andrea said...

    I like these kinds of cookies no matter what their names. And I like your idea for bake and shake, especially since I usually raise a cloud of sugar in my kitchen, too. :-)

    Sandy Smith said...

    ~Judy: If my husband read this blog, he'd be laughing his head off. "Neat and clean" are not exactly words I'd use to describe my kitchen at the moment. I think I'm going to need to rent a power washer to get the batter splashes off my knife block and everything else on my counter, and there's a layer of flour dusting everything. Looks like we recently had some Sheetrock put up, there's so much surface white. :) But I'm NOT doing a thorough clean until after the roundup!

    Sandy Smith said...

    ~Glamah16 & Andrea: I love the shake method of coating ~ I use it for everything I can now. It gives a really good, even coating on both sides and keeps mess to a minimum. Love it!

    Anonymous said...

    Another beautiful cookie! I don't eat enough of these to ever tire of them, and warm from the oven is what I love most. I like your idea of not grinding the nuts down too far -- I'll bet the crunch in these was perfect.

    Anonymous said...

    Brilliant! This is my favorite Christmas cookie that I usually eat in batches of five -- I know, but can you ever eat just one?

    Funny, it just NEVER occurred to me to flatten them, and for some reason, it makes such a difference! I used pistachios, and they are excellent.

    Thank you, Sandy.

    soopling said...

    I made these the other day for a small get-together…they were a hit! Thanks for your recipe!

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