Wedding Bells

Two of our favorite people are getting married this weekend. Susan - who works with me at the UA Honors College - and John. They are two of the kindest, smartest people we know, and they have such varied interests, too. It is so much fun to share a table with them!

When they started planning their weddings (yes, weddings plural), I asked what I could do to help. The first wedding will be today in Susan's hometown of State College, Pennsylvania, with all her family by her side. Everything is taken care of on that front.

Because many of her and John's friends live here in Tucson - about 2,500 miles away from her hometown - they are having a second ceremony here. It will be the perfect second wedding for them... out in the Sonoran Desert they both love so much, surrounded by birds and cool animals that they love to watch, and with a table filled to capacity with desserts, which they love to eat.

This second wedding will be officiated by Patricia, the Dean of the Honors College - and I can't think of a more loving, caring, and kind person to send them on their way together. I might have to cry...

Back to that table filled with desserts. That is where I come in. I offered to help make some of the desserts so that they could have exactly what they wanted.

My two offerings will both be seen here on Cocoa & Lavender - individual Cuatro Leches Cakes and, for today's post, Mexican Wedding Cakes.

Mexican Wedding Cakes are known in many forms around the world... Russian Tea Cakes, is the name I grew up with. But Snowballs, Butterballs, and Norwegian Walnut Balls are names also used. And those are only the ones I know of! I imagine every cuisine has a cookie like this... the only difference between them seems to be the type of nut used.

My mother used pecans or almonds, while I know many use walnuts. For these cookies today, I used Arizona-grown pecans; that seemed appropriate for their Arizona wedding.

Basically, they are a very tender shortbread with ground nuts. Some people use coarsely ground nuts, but I prefer them finely ground, as I think it gives them the best texture.

This recipe is an adaptation of several I found online. They go beautifully with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate, which is exactly how we ate the test batch last evening under the stars.

~ David

Mexican Wedding Cookies

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup plus ¾ cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
4 ounces pecans, finely ground

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then mix in ground pecans to form a stiff dough. Divide dough in half; form each half into disk. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold - about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Working with half of chilled dough, scoop level tablespoonfuls of dough (about ½ ounce for each cookie), then quickly roll them into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing ½ inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet.

Put remaining powdered sugar into a wide bowl, then gently toss warm cookies in sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely.

Makes 48.


  1. These are like the Greek kourabiedes only that kourabiedes are made with almonds and are traditional Christmas cookies.
    They look great, I will make them next Christmas :)
    Congratulations to your friends!

  2. I actually had kourabiedes yesterday at lunch - I should have amended the post to include them they SLO had finikia but I liked my recipe better. Thanks, Magda!

  3. Ooh I was going to say the same thing as Magda. I love these David and I know that they will be an absolute hit at the wedding. Have a wonderful day.

  4. I made these with toasted almonds and pistachios, and they are amazing with all nuts. They´re simply stunning cookies to eat! Love how you´re making desserts for your friends. There´s no better way to show love. And that 4 leches cake...I´m looking forward to it. Have a great week David!

  5. My mom used to make these at Christmas time with walnuts and a twist...she formed them into crescents - l I remember is how they melted in the mouth! Several years ago I was asked to help a dear friend cook and bake for her wedding at a vineyard in Oregon. We had so much fun in the kitchen, and I remember how wonderful and honored I was to be a part of such a lovely life event.

    Enjoy the wedding, it sounds like it will be great!

  6. Oh my, do those look good!And,they look easy... Beautiful photos, too!

  7. Anna - thanks!

    Paula - I love the idea of combining nuts. The pistachios combined with almonds sound like winning combo! Must try that!

    Karin - I love being a part of the wedding, even if only desserts. And, by the way, my mother used to make them in crescent shapes, too, but always with almond.

    Susan - I wish all recipes were this easy... and this good! :)

  8. What a sweet way to wish the new couple a happy future, David!

    These are such a treat.
    I make the Italian version which is made with almonds instead of pecans.

  9. David, you know how much I love your blog.
    I put you on my Liebster Award List!
    Please answer my important foodie questions:
    xo Colette

  10. I hope the wedding went well at the weekend. Can't imagine there would have been too many of those delicious looking cookies left over!

  11. Colette - what do they call them in Italy? I have never seen anything like them. I need to give the almonds a try!

  12. The Tucson wedding is in two weeks and I have a feeling there will be no leftovers at all!

  13. Colette - thanks so much for including me on the Liebster Award List! I almost missed it because I thought I had already approved your comment! I look forward to participating!

  14. I remember the first time I tried Mexican Wedding Cookies - at the International House at UC Berkeley at their annual fair probably 15 years ago. So delicious! Now I just need a mixer so I can make these! :)


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