Monday, September 6, 2010
Oh joy, oh bliss! What a wonderful find! Imagine chocolate, coffee, and sugar coming together in one small bite and perfectly melting on your tongue...talk about heaven! At first I was skeptical of these little guys, but was so pleasantly surprised by their lightness and appeal that I have to make them again...and soon.
I am sure most people have encountered the usual suspect in their tins of Christmas Cookies from neighbors, friends, or families..."the Mexican wedding cookie." Or A.K.A. Butterballs, Russian Tea Cakes, Swedish Tea Cakes, Moldy Mice, Sandies, or Sand Tarts. I understand the sand like names, referring to the delicate cookies melting texture and sand like consistency. I also understand the butter names, referring to the simple butter taste that is so evident in each bite. Now the moldy mice name is just gross and so unappetizing...why would anyone ever want to eat a moldy mouse? Yuck.
I have often wondered what makes these tea cakes Russian, Mexican, or Swedish. Do they go well with vodka? Can they break out a mean salsa move on the dance floor? Or do they just like to say "ja" a lot? I then figured it must be the kind of nut you use that makes the cookie Russian, Mexican, or Swedish...but no I was wrong. I looked at tons and tons of recipes and could not find a definitive agreement that one nut was to be used for each nationality of cookie.
I started thinking about it and decided to make up my own answer. I googled each nut and found out where it originated from, where it is primarily grown, and what its overall presence in ethnic dishes was. Pecans are a true Southern nut, they are also grown in Mexico...so I decided that "Mexican Wedding Cookies" are made with pecans. Next I though about almonds and how they are prominent in a lot of Scandinavian dishes...so I then decided "Swedish Tea Cookies" are made with almonds. Then I thought about walnuts...they are strong, stubborn, and hard core...kind of like Russians...so...you guessed it...I decided that "Russian Tea Cakes" are made with walnuts. Don't you like my logic? Of course the only thing that matters is what kind of nut you have in your pantry so call it what you will. If you have any family secrets or thoughts on this, please do share.
I was blog surfing the other day and came across this recipe for mocha flavored wedding cookies. Did I dare? Yes I did dare. Did I like? No, I did love! They are so cute and lovely, and just fall apart in your mouth. So good for the soul. So, I now expect each and every one of you to add these to the tins of cookies you hand out at Christmas time
I would now like to interrupt your regularly scheduled programmed recipe to bring you, "Nutty facts about Nuts."
The Chinese see almonds as a symbol of everlasting sadness...and female beauty...ummm...is there a connection there?
Walnut shells are very useful little bits. They are used to thicken paint...so if you find your kids licking the walls they may just like walnuts. They are also used as a filler in dynamite...so if you are making these cookies and find you are out of nuts just go find your dynamite stash and empty out the contents...hum just kidding, and please don't do that.
Straight from Wikipedia: "Pecan" is from an Algonquian word, meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack. Also, if you want to be a true Yankee and call it a "Pee-can", please do so alone and not in the South, really, its just embarrassing to everyone.
adapted from Taste of home
Cream in large bowl with mixer:
1 cup soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Then beat in:
2 tsp vanilla
Sift together and then add to above and mix until combined:
1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 TBS instant coffee
1/2 tsp salt
Then mix in:
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans)
Roll into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 14-16 minutes. When cooled roll in powdered sugar.
*fyi...I am currently making chocolate malt cookies...I hope they taste as good as they sound...I promise to report back to you!!!