While I realize that Valentine's Day has just passed, I want to talk about Christmas. I love Christmas. I love Christmas because all I ever do during Christmas is bake and cook and entertain and procrastinate on my Christmas shopping which always takes place the day before Christmas for various reasons - none of which I claim as my fault. But this past Christmas was different. There was no tree. There were no cookies. There was no cooking. There was work, projects, reports, exams, and a couple of hours of sleep where it could be found. I enviously listened to Bing Crosby, as he told me that he was dreaming of a White Christmas. I caught glimpses of the stream of FB messages from friends about spending time with family and friends, secretly feeling oh so jealous that I didn't even have time to put a tree up. I ignored phone calls, text messages, emails just to "Seabiscuit" my way to the finish line. And it finally came - after Christmas day was done. After all of the shopping was done, after all presents were unwrapped, and after everyone's Christmas cookies were baked and already half gone. I woke up that morning thinking to myself "I can't wait 'til next Christmas" - it won't know what hit it when it gets there. As payback for being robbed of such a holiday, efforts will begin when the first radio station starts to play Christmas music - which I believe is now year-round thanks to Sirius / XM. So let the planning begin. Cookie recipes, jams, pickled vegetables from the upcoming summer garden, duck, goose, side dishes turned upside down, cured salmon, hors d'oeuvres, porchetta, panettone, trifle, and perhaps even egg nog (which I have never had but will attempt to make, from a friend's description it sounds like a respectable beverage).
So even though I didn't make any cookies before Christmas, I did have a small cookie exchange with a friend after Christmas. As we baked one set of cookies (Triple Ginger) and drank sangria, we snacked on the another - these Mexican Wedding Cakes. And as we snacked, drank, waited for the ginger cookies to bake, and chatted - it hit me. This out of the entire season felt like Christmas. Whatever it was that resulted in this revelation - alcohol, powdered sugar, or watching copious amounts of room temperature butter swirl around in the kitchen aid, it didn't matter. I still think about that evening. And although the recipe for these Mexican Wedding Cookies is not my own, but adapted from Epicurious, it was less about the recipe and more about the experience. And I know that this year's Christmas will definitely be a year-long experience.
Mexican Wedding Cakes
adapted from Bon Appetit May 2003
1 cup butter, room temp
2 cups flour
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla (pref. Mexican)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped fine
1/2 tsp salt
Cream the butter in a large bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar beat until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour, salt, and walnuts until mixed in. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, roll dough by about 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange on a baking sheet about 1inch apart. Bake until golden on the bottom and pale on top, about 12 minutes. Depending on the size that you roll - check about 8 minutes into baking. You don't want to over-bake these cookies.
Cool the cookies for a couple of minutes.
Roll the still warm cookies in the powdered sugar trying to avoid popping every single one in your mouth.
The cookies must be tossed in the sugar while still very warm so that the sugar can adhere to the cookie, and even melt slightly. Let cool on a wire rack. Pack as gifts or enjoy with family and friends. Merry Christmas, indeed.