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Mexican Wedding Cakes (Or Are They Russian Tea Cakes?)

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Photo by Linda Xiao

We found this recipe in Amanda Hesser's copy of Gregg Gillespie's 1001 Cookie Recipes (a remarkably comprehensive and lovable book that survived the culling of her massive cookbook collection this fall).

Maybe you knew these crumbly shortbread cookies as Russian Tea Cakes, or Snowballs, or Viennese Crescents, rather than Mexican Wedding Cookies (or Polvorones, as they're called in Mexico—from the word for dust, polvo). Theories abound on why the same cookie ball appears to have descended from so many places (was it European nuns traveling to Mexico? Or Cold War rebranding?) If you have a hypothesis to add, we want to hear it! (Note, too, that this version has the unusual addition of tequila, which stands in quite nicely for vanilla.)

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Mexican Wedding Cakes II

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Makes 4 to 5 dozen
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening (butter can be substituted, or use a mixture)
  • 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tequila
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

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