Monday, September 22, 2008

Making Sandcastles: My Take On Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies and Cookie jar

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Mary Ann's blog: Meet Me In The Kitchen. She had posted some amazing looking Cherry Pistachio Wedding Cookies. One look at them and I knew I had to try them.

I had to tweak her recipe a bit for my dietary requirements and some other items which were missing in action in my pantry. I chose to make mine with dried cranberries instead of the cherries. I also decided to experiment with replacing 2 of the 8 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of canola oil instead. I still left plenty of butter for the rich taste and texture it provides. I used raw pistachios instead of salted ones. Finally, since the cookies are coated with powdered sugar, I reduced the sugar in the cookie batter to half a cup. These little gems were a big hit for dessert. My kids loved them. Thank you for the inspiration Mary Ann!

mexican cookies spilled

They were a lot of fun to make and so easy. It all happens pretty much in the food processor and then it's like a day at the beach... You get to fill a tablespoon measurer with the sandy dough, pack it in tight and invert it onto a cookie sheet. I was alone at home when I made them, a rare thing in itself, and I was reminded of the many summers of my childhood.

I grew up in Nice, France, where most of the beaches are covered with smooth stones. My family use to drive on the weekends to a place outside of Nice called: "Passable". It was a cove, where the beach was filled with sand. We would spend all day, picnicking, swimming, and making sandcastles with our little buckets. We would pack in the wet sand firmly, because experience had taught us that if we didn't the tower would crumble. Making those lovely cookies is exactly like that. You get a treat and a trip down memory lane all in one.

Mexican Wedding Cookies Inside View

Gluten Free Cranberry Pistachio Wedding Cookies (makes 32 small but delicious cookies)
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
2/3 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xantham gum

2 tablespoons canola oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1/2 tablespoon GF vanilla extract
3 teaspoons ice water
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup of finely chopped raw pistachios

1/2 cup powdered sugar, to coat cookies

Preheat oven 350F
Oil a cookie sheet.
Combine all the flours, 1/2 cup of sugar, cornstarch, salt, and xantham gum in the bowl of the food processor and blend together.
Slowly drizzle the oil into the food processor and pulse to combine. Then continue adding the butter pieces little by little, until you obtain a small crumb. Use a spatula to scrape the sides and make sure the butter is evenly distributed.
Add the water and ice water and process until well combined, scraping sides again as needed.
Add the cranberries and pistachios and process for 20 more seconds or so. Carefully, remove blade from bowl.

Using a round tablespoon measurer, scoop the crumbly mixture into the spoon and press hard to obtain a compact little patty (this is where your sandcastle building skills come in handy). Gently slide the patty out of the spoon and onto the prepared cookie sheet. Continue this step until you have used up all the cookie crumb mixture.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are slightly golden. Remove and let cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar into a bowl. Toss the cookies gently to coat with the sugar, return to cookie sheet and let cool completely.

Hungry for more cookies? Here's another favorite...
Lebanese Walnut Cookies


marieke said...

Those look great!

VeggieGirl said...

Those cookies look SENSATIONAL!! Love your take on them.

Fifi Flowers said...

You site is wonderful... beautiful food photos! I must pass your site along to a fellow blogger... she is always looking for gluten free recipes.

Elra said...

I really want to visit Nice, my husband's cousin has a vacation home there, and every one in our family been there except me. How shame! I've been to France couple of time, but not to that part of the area. I really really want to visit (desperate)

By the way, that wedding cookies looks so good.

Robin Sue said...

Alexa- I am in a humble state at how you can transforn a recipe to gluten free with using all those different flours. I really have limited myself with AP flour haven't I? I bet the different flours make them taste so much better! Great pictures as always!

Alexa said...

I would like to share those with you over coffee...:-)

I am glad you enjoyed this little treat to start off the week just right!

Fifi Flowers,
Thanks so much for your visit. I really liked your site too. You are a talented artist!

My dad lives in the hills of Nice but I haven't been back there since he moved back. It's a lovely area, especially in the Summer. Last time I went was in the winter and everything we wanted to visit was closed because tourist season was over. If you go, you might want to make sure that it's between May and September.

Robin Sue,
It is all playtime for me. It is not always a success... I had to throw a gluten free brioche I made yesterday. It looked beautiful but tasted all wrong. I will conquer it though-- I am on a mission. :-)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Alexa, I have never tried these cookies - they look so good!
And your photos are gorgeous.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Those must melt in your mouth! Great!

Astra Libris said...

Your cookies are SO beautiful!! I just discovered your blog through No Croutons Required, and both your fruit salad and these cookies are gorgeous! Bravo!

Leonor de Sousa Bastos said...

Your cookies are awesome!! I love the background you've used...

And the bite on the last one is really tempting!

Susan said...

What is it about these melt-in-your mouth buttery morsels? Just a tad richer than shortbread (a favorite), and so very sumptuous.

TKTC said...

My favorite kinds of holiday cookies and there's even built-in accountability as I ALWAYS have powdered sugar all over my face when I try to sneak an extra! I love this take- can't wait to try it!

Mary Ann said...

Wow- seeing them here makes me want to make them again, but with your modifications. Your pictures are beautiful and these cookies look so, so, so, so good!

Katie said...

Oh my gosh! What cute little cookies! I wish I had a plateful right now.

cindy* said...

my grandmother makes this type of cookie every year for the holidays. so, so yummy!

Passionate About Baking said...

I love trips down memory lane, & also time in the kitchen to work alone! Great looking cookies Alexa...sumptious!

nicisme said...

Beautiful cookies!

Dee said...

I've seen Mexican Wedding Cookies around but have never tried them. You make them look so irresistible!

Alexa said...

Patricia and Clumbsy Cookie,
I highly recommend them. My family already asked for a second batch!

Astra Libris,
Thank you so much for your visit and your nice comment. I am glad you enjoyed some of my posts.:-)

I have to say that I REALLY enjoyed that bite...

My type of cookie: a little goes a long way.

Now that you mention it, that would explain why children's chins were mysteriously powdery white for the last two days (lol).

Mary Ann,
I am glad you liked them. You were the inspiration. Thank you!

I wish I could send some your way...

Can I borrow your grandmother?

Passionate Deeba,
Time in the kitchen to work alone never happens for me... I cherish it when I get it.

Thank you!

Jude said...

Great looking texture on those cookies.. Powdered sugar on anything makes me smile :)

GF Gidget said...

Wonderful! I love your twist!

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