The small storm of sugar and chocolate that has been hovering in my kitchen is beginning to subside. I've mailed the Christmas packages that need to be sent and I'm distributing the others. Although I like to take a relaxed approach to the holidays, I still have had quite a lot going on. This afternoon I left work and dashed through a few quick errands, then to a very long post office line, then quickly home before I was off again to go caroling. I reminded myself of a cartoon, with me running around in a bit of a frenzy to get all of that done, with a caption highlighting the irony of the situation, something like, Its the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
I prefer to keep it a wonderful time and have been finding the small things, such as baking, making and caroling to make this happen. I also had the pleasure of participating in a Holiday Traditions Exchange which was organized by Meg McElwee at Sew Liberated. It was like having a temporary pen pal from far away who I had never met. I know only a few things about Wendy from Alabama, who was my exchange partner, but through this I learned more about her special holiday traditions and received some wonderful holiday treats.
We each sent the other a handmade ornament, a recipe for something that is part of our holiday celebrations and a description of some of the traditions that we carry out every year. I wrote to Wendy about Chocolate Roll -- a variation of a buche de noel that my mom makes every year for Christmas or New Years or both. Often we have a Christmas Party filled with friends and family and we make 6 or 7 of these delicious logs of chocolate cake wrapped around whipped cream and flavored with things such as raspberry jam, peppermint, mocha and orange marmalade. I'm not going to talk to much more about this right now because the real excitement this year spilled out of the package Wendy sent me. Not only did I love hearing about what her family does at christmas, I adored the little snow man ornament she sent. To top it all off, Wendy included some of the recipes for the many cookies she gives as gifts to her large extended family.
I can't wait to try the ginger cookie recipe she sent, but I jumped right in with her recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies. When I read the simple list of ingredients that would make a nut studded cookie tossed in powdered sugar, I knew this was what I had been looking for. Although this year I focused on making candy and chocolates as gifts, I know that Mexican Wedding Cookies will certainly be included in any Christmas cookie assortments I make in the future. They are simple and not too sweet, balancing out the larger quantities of sugar that fill many cookie recipes. They are easy and quick and, as Wendy has her children involved in the process, very family friendly. Those that I shared them with loved them, and its really the sharing that I love most about all of this holiday time!
I made these cookies both with white flour and spelt flour. The spelt version is a little bit crumblier, but quite similar to the white flour -- you could also use a light whole wheat flour, I'm sure (whole wheat pastry, white whole wheat or half white half wheat flour).
2 sticks of butter, softened 2 cups of flour
2 cups of chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
8 tablespoons of powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the butter, flour, walnuts and vanilla with a mixer until ingredients are combined into a crumbly dough. Shape the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely. Place cooled cookies in a bag, add powdered sugar and shake gently to coat the cookies. Makes about two dozen cookies.