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Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies
Spices derive their flavors from essential oils that evaporate over time, so they need to be replaced periodically. If stored in tightly closed containers in a cool, dark place, ground spices will last for about 6 months and whole spices will last for about 1 year. Purchase spices in small amounts from stores with high turnover. For the most pronounced flavor, use whole spices and grind them just before using. To grind the cinnamon for this recipe, in a small fry pan over medium heat, toast part of a cinnamon stick until fragrant, then break up the stick and grind in a mortar with a pestle or in a spice grinder.

Ingredients:

  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at
     room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup ground blanched almonds

Directions:

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low, add the vanilla and salt, and beat until blended.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Stir in the almonds. Cover and refrigerate until the dough is chilled but not hard and is no longer sticky to the touch, about 15 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Sift the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar into a shallow bowl.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on 2 ungreased baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies are just golden on the bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies one at a time and roll them in the confectioners' sugar. Let the cookies cool completely on wire racks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cookies, by Marie Simmons (Simon & Schuster, 2002).