Mexican Wedding Cakes

4/22/2012 10:35:00 AM

I made these Mexican wedding cakes when I wanted a something small and sweet to go with coffee at a dinner party, but didn't want to go all out with a proper dessert.  Made with ground nuts - pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts are traditional - and lots of butter, these are crumbly little shortbread biscuits, heavily dusted in icing sugar, much like my beloved Vanillekipferl.

I first found a recipe for Mexican wedding cakes in Belinda Jeffrey's Mix and Bake, which she herself got from her Auntie Beryl.  However, whilst researching the recipe online, I realised, that like many traditional recipes, there are hundreds of versions out there, all of which are pretty much the same.  Lord knows who 'invented' the recipe, or who owns the original copyright, if such a thing is at all possible!

I took elements from a few different recipes to get my recipe, below, based on what I thought would work well.  I also adapted the traditional biscuit to make the most of some gorgeous hazelnuts I'd been given by Wendy at Fare Enough in Euroa.  (See my blogpost, here.) They were so fresh, slightly sweet and very hazelnutty, and I wanted to show off and intensify their inherent hazelnuttiness as much as I could.

As per tradition, I toasted some of the hazelnuts in the oven, before grinding them with flour, salt and cinnamon, to use in the biscuit dough.
Toasted hazelnuts

Creamed butter and sugar

Dry ingredients (including ground toasted hazelnuts) being added to the butter
And - here's where I diverge from tradition - I included one whole hazelnut in each biscuit, for an extra crunchy surprise!  (This idea came from baker extraordinaire Duncan, who made fab hazelnut shortbreads to bring to a party I hosted a couple of years ago).

Biscuit dough

Stick that hazelnut in...

And roll it up to encase the hazelnut!

Using a scant teaspoon of dough for each hazelnut, I ended up with 69 (heh) biscuits in total.  Obviously the number of biscuits you get would change depending on how generous you are with the dough.

These are absolutely beautiful biscuits - very short, crumbly and delicate, with a wonderful nuttiness from the combo of ground and whole hazelnuts.  If you happen to come across some proper, very fresh nuts, I'd highly recommend you give them a go!

Mexican Wedding Surprises
Sarah's version of a classic recipe

70g whole hazelnuts
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup icing sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
250g unsalted butter
Approx. extra 70 whole hazelnuts
Approx. 2 cups more icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Place the 70g hazelnuts on a baking tray in a single layer, and roast for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and fragrant.  Allow to cool slightly, loosely wrapped in a clean tea towel.  Rub vigorously to remove as much of the papery skin as you can.  (Don't get too worked up about it, a few flecks of brown won't harm the finished product).

Place the roasted and denuded hazelnuts, flour, salt and cinnamon into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the double blade, and process until the hazelnuts are finely ground.  Set aside.

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Gently stir in the hazelnut and flour mixture with a wooden spoon until combined.  (Stop as soon as there are no more lumps of flour remaining - if you overwork the dough, the resulting biscuits will be tough, and you want these to be crumbly and short!)

Take a scant teaspoonful of the mixture, press a whole hazelnut into it, and roll the dough to encase the hazelnut.  Place on a lined cookie tray, leaving a little room for spreading.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown at the edges.  Dredge the biscuits thickly with icing sugar and allow to cool slightly before digging in.

Makes 69

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  1. This sounds absolutely gorgeous. I'm already thinking that if you had the time to make them from various different nuts, what fun it'd be to pick them out from a pile of mixed ones - double the surprise!

  2. Celeste - Thank-you! Such a cute idea!! I must try that next time :)

  3. This is great. I love reading about different cakes and baked treats on your blog that I've never even heard of! I'm a complete nut for nuts, so this is right up my alley :)

  4. Ahhh so amazing sounding and I'd be totally addicted to these!

  5. Winston - Thank-you very much! Hehe, "nut for nuts". :)

    I-Hua - Thanks so much! It's tricky, you can't just stop at one!

  6. I've got a recipe for these bookmarked as they reminded me at first of those Greek almond biscuits that I adore. I really should give these a go! :)

  7. I *love* Greek almond biscuits! Any nutty shortbread really, hehe. Especially German vanillakipferl! :)

  8. These look SO delicious!



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