A cookie by any other name… Mexican Wedding Cookies

When the baking urge strikes (or the bake sale looms), and you tackle the delicious task of deciding what to make, certain recipes always swim to the top of your mind, don’t they?

For me, it’s brownies for bake sales. Doughnut muffins for breakfast. My mom’s almond puff loaf for brunch. Blitz bread for a hurry-up dinner. And my favorite pizza crust, topped with whatever the season or occasion demands, is my go-to, all-around crowd-pleasing supper.

These tried-and-true treats are imprinted in my mind with laser-like clarity – if not the recipe itself, at least the result. I can feel the heft of one of those big, dense, moist brownie-slabs in my hand. See the golden, flaky layers of the puff loaf. And smell the aroma of hot bread, bottom crust sizzling in olive oil.

Other recipes occupy a middle layer in my brain, a kind of netherworld that’s equal parts vague childhood memory, and recipes torn from women’s magazines, mentally marked “I should make these sometime.”

Mexican Wedding Cookies – or Russian Teacakes, or Mexican Teacakes, or Russian Wedding Cookies, or just plain Snowballs or Butterballs – are just such a recipe.

These cookies were popular back in the day (“the day” being, for us Boomers, the ’50s and ’60s). They usually showed up during the holidays, appearing in their bright-white splendor on cookie gift plates and dessert buffets.

And eliciting advice from my mother to avoid them: “You won’t like them. They’re not chocolate. What did I tell you, watch out – you’re getting sugar all over everything!”

Maybe that was their allure: they were the forbidden fruit of cookiedom, and therefore oh-so-tempting.

A recent occasion (actually, the need for a photograph of a plain-looking cookie) inspired me to finally, after all these years, try this recipe. And the cookies met expectations: tender, crumbly, full of ground almonds, covered with a blizzard of confectioners’ sugar, and just plain yummy.

Wedding Cookies may go by many names. But two things are constant – their melt-in-your-mouth texture; and distinctive, attractive appearance: round and white as a cumulus cloud.

Let’s revisit the 1950s, when this classic cookie made its first foray into popular print: Clementine Paddleford’s Los Angeles Times column from April 29, 1951 – just about 60 years ago.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Put the following in a large bowl:

1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter*
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1 teaspoon salt*

If you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

Beat everything together until smooth.

Add 3/4 cup almond flour or 3/4 cup blanched almonds, finely ground.

Beat until well combined.

Add 2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.

Beat to incorporate; you’ll have a fairly stiff dough.

Scoop chestnut-sized (1″) pieces of dough, and roll them into balls. A level teaspoon cookie scoop will give you just the right amount of dough.

What happens if you don’t bother to roll the scooped dough into balls? We shall see…

Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1″ between them.

Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, until they feel set on top.

Some of them will be MAYBE beginning to barely brown around the edges.

And here’s the difference between rounding the scooped dough into balls (left), or not (right). For perfectly round cookies, take the time to shape the dough into smooth balls before baking.

While the cookies are baking, put 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar in a shallow bowl.

Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer them, 5 or 6 at a time, to the bowl.

Roll them in the sugar to coat…

…then transfer them to a rack to cool.

They should be fairly well coated with sugar. But, as they cool, some of the sugar will melt, making them look a bit naked.

When the cookies are cool, roll them in the sugar again; this time, they should be thoroughly coated and snowy white. If they’re not, give them a third trip through the sugar.

Very pretty!

And tasty, too. These cookies almost literally melt in your mouth, they’re that tender/crumbly. It’s the almond flour that does the trick.

Store cookies airtight at room temperature, where they’ll last quite awhile – unless someone finds them first…

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Wedding Cookies.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Donna, these cookies are crumbly by nature, which is why they’re made small enough to be a one-bite treat. You could replace the almond flour with more all-purpose to make them less crumbly if that’s what you’re looking for, but it will affect the flavor of the cookies as well. Our best recommendation is really just to keep plenty of napkins on hand and enjoy the unique texture. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Kristen! We wouldn’t suggest using coconut flour because it absorbs quite a bit of liquid. If you’d like to skip the almond flour, we’d suggest using another nut flour, such as Pecan Meal, in place of it. Happy baking! Morgan@KAF

  1. Vicky L Ley

    Why do mine always flatten out? Can I add a teaspoon of cornstarch or more flour. I don’t use almond flour, just chopped walnuts.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Vickey. It sounds like your dough needs more flour to provide a little more structure. While you can most definitely use another nut flour in place of the almond flour. You don’t want to replace it with just chopped nuts — something with a texture that is similar would work better here. We’d suggest giving this recipe another try using a nut flour rather than just chopped nuts and they should hold their shape better. Happy baking! Morgan@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Leah! You sure could use pistachios in place of the almonds, you’ll just want to make sure the skins have been removed. Happy baking! Morgan@KAF

  2. Martha

    Marie, to respectfully add to Kat’s response, I’ve use all AP flour successfully. The secret to tenderness is combining the ingredients as lightly as possible so as not to develop the gluten. Adding a little bit (1/2 t or so) of cornstarch seems to help as well. I recently tried using a dough whisk that KAF carries and was surprised how well it worked versus stirring with a wooden spoon.

    Reply
  3. Marie

    These are my husband’s favorite cookies. My son wants to try them too but he has a nut allergy. Is it possible to leave out the almond flour and replace with APF to make a nut free version? Would is be a 1:1 substitution?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Marie, that’s an interesting suggestion! You could make them with all-purpose flour, but the texture would definitely be a little different. While we haven’t tried it in our test kitchen, some allergen-friendly bloggers we know of suggest grinding sunflower seeds (sifting out any larger bits) to use in place of almond flour in some cookies. It’s definitely worth giving it a shot! It may take some experimenting, but we’re sure you’ll eventually find a ratio of flours that will work for your whole family. Happy baking! Kat@KAF

  4. Heidi

    We have someone who has a dairy allergy but loves these cookies, could we substitute earth balance (non-dairy) butter or are there other adjustments to the recipe that should be made?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Heidi, you can definitely substitute Earth Balance (the sticks, not the tubs) for the dairy butter in this recipe. The texture will be a little bit different, but still delicious! Keep in mind that Earth Balance is salted, so you’ll want to follow the directions for using a salted butter as mentioned in the original recipe. Happy dairy-free baking! Kat@KAF

  5. Dianna D

    Why aren’t ALL the ingredients listed at the beginning of the recipe? The almond flour or crushed almonds and the flour aren’t listed

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Dianna! You’ll be happy to know that on the recipe page (always linked below the main photo of our blog article) include the full list of ingredients in one spot. This blog article is more of a walk-through the process rather than a verbatim recipe. We hope this helps — happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You bet, Elizabeth — for up to three months! Then you can bake them right out of the freezer. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

    2. Lisa

      Do you adjust the cooking time or temperature if you bake them from frozen, or do you thaw them before you bake them? Do the cookies freeze well after baking?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      The bake time might take an extra couple of minutes, and you can also freeze baked cookies for up to 3 months. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

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