These have been a favorite for years and years. They are a basic cookie called many things all over the world, Mexican Wedding Cookies in the US, Russian Tea Cakes, Polvorones is what they actually call them in Mexico, they are similar to a Viennese crescent cookie, and others just refer to them as pecan balls. You know a recipe is good when it is globally adored!
For this one I take the basics and just change it up a bit. Instead of vanilla extract, I scrape a vanilla bean if I have one, and instead of the almond extract that can give them a fake flavor, I put in some Amaretto for a more subtle almond taste. I also roast my pecans first, to bring out their natural oils and boost their flavor. These are included in my Christmas tins every year (you might want to suck up to me now, so you can make it onto my Christmas tin list this year!)
These are the easiest of my cookies to make, and they melt in your mouth. I always double this recipe, but if you aren’t ready for the commitment yet, make this single batch and I am sure next time you will at least double it!
1 cup whole pecans (roasted)
2 cups confectioners sugar
Tip: Don’t go dumping the sugar without reading through the recipe, only part of the sugar is added with the nuts, some you cream with the butter and the rest is used to roll the cookies in. When I was rushing and trying to make a few kinds of cookies in one afternoon, this part tripped me up when I put too much in with the nuts. Nothing else about this recipe is at all challenging, promise!
2 cups all-purpose
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks of butter (softened)
1 vanilla bean (scrape out the middle of the pod) or 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
1 tbsp Amaretto (or the traditional 1/2 tsp almond extract)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure the pecans and put them in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Cook them in a preheated oven for 4-5 minutes (once you smell the nutty goodness pull them out, if they overbake they become bitter). Cool them for a few minutes while you measure the other ingredients.
Put 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar and the softened butter into the bowl of a standing blender or a large bowl and use a handheld blender. Cream for 4 minutes or until fluffy. Add in the vanilla or vanilla extract and the Amaretto and blend for a minute.
Now that your pecans are cooled, dump them into the mini-prep with 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and pulse until very well combined. Pour into a medium bowl. Add in the flour and salt and whisk together. Put the blender or mixer on lowest speed, and add in the dry ingredients gradually, scraping the sides.
That’s it! Dough is ready to roll into small balls on parchment lined sheets.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. They are ready when the bottom is golden brown, the tops may still look undercooked but they aren’t.
Tip: First time you make these, after 10 or 11 minutes, use a spatula to pick up a cookie and flip it over to check the bottoms. They are ready when it is golden brown so you have to really check.
Cool the cookies on a wire rack, then roll the cooled cookies in the confectioners sugar (the last cup goes into a shallow bowl or small serving dish). Put them into an airtight container for a few days or freeze them for up to a month. If you have any left to store!