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Favorite Mexican Wedding Cookie/Russian Teacake Recipes?

A friend wishes to make these little nut cookies as part of her holiday assortment and is looking for an excellent, reliable recipe (which she wants me to vet). At this point, she's flexible on the type of nut. Any recommendations?

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  1. I have made the recipe on epicurious.com many, many times and I think you absolutely cannot improve on it. It's perfect.

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

    1. I've always used the one in the Betty Crocker cookie book; amazing!

      5 Replies
      1. re: SaraASR

        Betty Crocker's recipe for Russian Tea Cakes is my absolute favorite, Sara. It's the recipe we've used in my family since my mother got her first BC cookbook as a bride. It's an easy recipe and I think the texture and flavor of the finished cookies are perfect.

        Doesn't mean I wouldn't be willing to try the epicurious recipe that junglekitte recommends or others' recommendations, because I love Russian Tea/Mexican Wedding Cakes and think they're a great accompaniment to a nice, hot, black cup of coffee...but BC's are my favorite.

        1. re: Normandie

          Yes! We use my grandmothers original copy... from ages ago :)

        2. re: SaraASR

          Sounds great. Can you share the recipe, please?

          1. re: SaraASR

            I found the Betty Crocker recipe here: http://recipes.epicurean.com/recipe/2...

            It uses 2 1/4 c. flour, 3/4 c. nuts, and 1 tsp. vanilla, while the Epicurious recipe calls for 2 c., 1 c., and 2 tsp., respectively; otherwise they are the same. I would add 1/4 tsp. salt to either.

          2. This is interesting. Of all people from whom I could possibly have a recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies on file...would you believe I have one from Paula Deen? :) I know, I know. She's not my favorite, but years ago I found the recipe, made 'em and found them to be quite tasty.
            http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa...

            I add this to the mix to reinforce the fact all these recipes are pretty similar, which should help you get to the final answer sooner. Paula's calls for the same amount of butter (hers was unsalted, I used salted), 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1-3/4 cups flour (similar) and a cup of pecans...oh, and only 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar (plus more for rolling them)... I will be interested to hear what recipe hits a high note for you, Caitlin. Happy baking!

            16 Replies
            1. re: kattyeyes

              Hmm, they do all have varying but similar proportions of flour and nuts, two sticks of butter, and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling. I have a feeling all would turn out well. I won't be doing the baking, but recommending a recipe to my friend (and I hope she'll share her cookies with me in exchange!).

              Let me slightly derail my own thread by mentioning to you, kattyeyes, that knowing how you love almonds, you would probably love a cookie my family makes for the holidays, a shortbread-like cookie made with almond paste that is buttery, very almond-y, and delicious. I'd be happy to share the recipe.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Ohmygoodness, I would love that, Caitlin. Thank you VERY kindly! :)

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  This almond fancier would be v v happy to see this recipe too!

                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                    In my family, we call these cookies marzipan shortbreads, though I don't think that was the original recipe name. It came from Sunset Magazine in the mid 1970s. If you happen to own glass or ceramic shortbread stamps, they are perfect for pressing out the balls of dough, which holds the relief designs very well. Otherwise, simply use a floured glass to flatten them. The dough also is resilient enough that you can shape it by hand into little (flat) animal or other shapes - push a whole clove into the dough to make an eye, if you like.

                    Marzipan Shortbread (Makes 3 dozen)

                    8 ounces butter
                    8 ounces almond paste
                    3/4 cup sugar
                    1 large egg
                    3 cups flour

                    Preheat oven to 325F. Cream butter, almond paste, and sugar until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, then gradually add flour until it's completely incorporated. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and press flat (to about 2-inches across) with floured shortbread stamps or the bottom of a glass. Bake on ungreased baking sheets for about 10 minutes, until just beginning to color. Store cookies in airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Dough keeps well in refrigerator if well wrapped.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      Thanks a million. This sounds like my dream cookie. Do you use a particular brand of almond paste?

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Over all, this is definitely the favorite holiday cookie of all my immediate family. We're a bunch of almond/marzipan fiends. We also do gingerbread with a marzipan layer baked in the middle for the holiday cookie plate, and do the same thing with brownies.

                        I have used different brands of almond paste over the years, depending on what was available (currently can buy it in bulk refrigerated at the Bowl - swear I'm not trying to rub it in, buttertart!). I have also been happy enough with the Solo in the can.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          Sigh. I hate you. Kidding. I have to make do with whatever I can find here in NYC (Solo is in the markets and there's a great baking store just off 6th Ave in Manhattan that has such ingredients in bulk). You really need to make the Malgieri English tea cake with marzipan layer if you're going fruitcake this year. (I am almond and marzipan-mad as well, maybe because we lived around the corner from a real Danish bakery when I was a kid - and were friends with the owners - so had lots of kransekage - love it to bits too, too bad it's hard to find and not easily made - and smorkage among other swell treats in the house.)

                          1. re: buttertart

                            NY Cake and Baking on 22nd off 6th, love that store - so fun, and tons of stuff packed into that little space. I used to live right in the neighborhood, too.

                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              It is a great store, once you get past the grumpy and alienated sales staff!

                            2. re: buttertart

                              Caitlin--much appreciate the recipe, miss. And to both you and buttertart, if we do get to the city this weekend, NY Cake and Baking is on my shopping list. I'm not sure we're still going, but what a great excuse I have now that my original shopping plan fell through. Can't wait to make this new recipe! You know I'm just the same kind of almond/marzipan fiend as you and your fam. ;) I am mentally filing all these wonderful ways to incorporate marzipan in my baking. Thanks again!

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                The marzipan-filled gingerbread and brownies are terrific if you love marzipan (I'm well aware that not everyone does!). My mother originally found the recipe fo the gingerbread, and it was obvious to pair it with the chocolate. Truthfully, I'm not crazy about the original gingerbread recipe, because it dries out after the first couple of days, but easy to sub another. Here's the recipe for the filling and the method.

                                8 ounces almond paste
                                1 egg white
                                1/2 tsp. almond extract
                                1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

                                Break up the almond paste and place in a mixing bowl. With an elevtric mixer, beat in the egg white and almond paste. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until the mixture is smooth. Sprinkle a piece of waxed paper with confectioners' sugar and scrape the mixture onto it. Pat int a 7 1/2-inch square, sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and cover with another piece of waxed paper. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

                                Prepare the batter for your favorite recipe for n 8x8-inch pan of moist gingerbread or fudgy brownies. Spread half the batter in the pan, then remove the top sheet of waxed paper from the filling and flip it into the pan on top of the batter; peel off the other sheet of waxed paper. Using a wet spatula, spread the rest of the batter over the filling. They will need to bake a bit longer than usual because of the filling. These are plenty rich, so we cut them in very small squares. Keep in a single layer in an airtight container.

                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                  Thanks again for this idea, I would not have thought of this. You could I suppose also just add small bits of marzipan to brownies (a friend in Memphis adds cubes of straight-from-the package cream cheese to hers, works v well too).

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    You definitely could do that. If you want them to stay little bits once the brownies are baked, vs. sort of melting in, I'd recommend freezing the bits on a plate until they harden up before adding them (an idea I got from a that golden fruitcake recipe I linked in the fruitcake thread).

                                2. re: kattyeyes

                                  kattyeyes, if you're coming in, don't forget the cache of Yixing teapots at Jade Garden Arts and Crafts, 76 Mulberry St...talk to Shirley, her father(the owner) is a connoisseur and they have some very nice ones. Not to put you in harm's way or anything.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I love you guys! Thanks for the great tips and for lookin' out for me both in the kitchen and in the city.

                    2. Does anybody make these smaller than the normally-called-for size? They are a pain to eat--too big for eating whole, and they make a powdered-sugary mess if you bite into them.

                      Anyone tried a smaller size? Would cutting the baking time work? Would the smaller size affect the texture (too dry) ?? Would the smaller size mean I'd just eat MORE??

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: toodie jane

                        I just made 700 of the russian tea cakes from the BC recipe for my friend's wedding favors. I've been making that recipe since high school. I always use a small cookie scoop -- it's pretty small -- maybe a a 2 tsp scoop? and they turn out great. they're really one-bite wonders. i also like baking them a little longer than the BC recipe. i like them a little golden, so you have some complexity in the texture: they're not just melty and gummy. i bake them about 16-18 minutes. i also don't do the two rolls in powdered sugar. i let them cool and then roll them once. less powdered-sugary mess.

                        1. re: sfkusinera

                          thanks--I just found, after much searching, a 2 tsp ss dough scoop at the local restaurant supply. Will go ahead with one bite wonders, using the GH cookbook recipe. I'm thinking this scoop is going to get a lot of use.

                        2. re: toodie jane

                          Are three too few? Are six too many? (reminiscences of an old TV ad re prunes).

                        3. Cook's Illustrated has a really perfect recipe.

                          1. I much appreciate the recipe recommendations, and because you all have made them many times an dlove them, I'm sure they all work well. Regardless, I will recommend to my friend that she add 1/4 tsp. salt (since many of the Epicurious reviews noted it was needed) and toast the nuts before chopping. I will let you know which she makes and how they turn out.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              Always add salt. "Never sweet without salt", from my great-grandmother through my mother to me.

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                these would be especially good if made with a European butter. The flavor will come through much more so, than with bland Amercian unsalted butters.

                              2. Thanks again to all who recommended Mexican wedding cake recipes. My friend ultimately went with the Epicurious recipe (made with pecans and adding salt), and she reports that they were "perfect" and her recipients loved them. (Unfortunately, I didn't taste them; she baked for family gifts, and she has many siblings, nieces and nephews!).

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                  Was looking through my recipe box on the hunt for something and came across my great-aunt by marriage's (excellent cook she was, too) recipe for these, entitled Heavenly Bites. Nice name. Must make them soon!