In my previous post I introduced polvorones (from polvo – dust), sweet confections characterized by their crumbly (dusty) texture, or because they are coated (dusted) with powdered sugar, or both; I also shared my recipe for the most traditional kind, very close to the original polvorones from Spain. In Mexico, though, there are other baked goods that are also called polvorones, and the recipe I am sharing in this post is for a bite-size cookie, similar to shortbread, with a generous amount of nuts inside. The origin of these cookies is probably Middle Eastern (including North Africa), then spreading to Europe, and from there, to the American continent. Many countries have a version of them, for example: Ghriba from Morocco; Un Kurabiyesi, from Turkey; or Kourabiedes, from Greece. Probably some of the best known Mexican cookies, they are often called “Mexican Wedding Cookies”, although giving them out as wedding favours is a tradition that mostly takes place in Northern Mexico and the Southern United States. In the rest of Mexico, they are known as polvorones de nuez – dusty cookies with nuts, an everyday treat, even sold in small packages at convenience stores and supermarkets; however, they may become extraordinary in the ordinary, when their dusty, snow-like tops, turn them into prodigious treats to share during the Christmas season.
Dusty Cookies with Nuts – Polvorones de nuez
Ingredients (for approximately 26 pieces)
½ cup butter
½ cup powdered sugar, plus more, for dusting
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose wheat flour
½ cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans
Place butter in a mixing bowl and cut into small cubes (photo below, left); allow butter to reach room temperature. Beat butter with a spatula until creamy, then add vanilla and powdered sugar (photo below, right):
Continue beating until sugar dissolves and mix becomes fluffy. Sift flour through a mesh onto the mix, incorporating with the spatula (photo below, left). Add chopped nuts, and continue mixing (photo below, right):
Finish by kneading lightly with hands, just until the mix may be formed into a compact ball, as seen below:
Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
Take small portions of dough, and form into balls, about 2 cm (3/4 in) in diameter; place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, gently flattening pieces to form domed shapes, and allowing about 2.5 cm (1 in) of separation:
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown, but the tops look just tanned:
Allow cookies to rest on the tray for a few minutes. Place a mound of powdered sugar on a plate, then dip a few cookies at a time, dusting the tops with more powdered sugar, sifted through a mesh:
Serve as part of a dessert spread, or as a featured snack, on their own:
The cross section reveals a buttery inside with plenty of nutty crunch:
Once completely cooled to room temperature, these cookies may be kept in a container with lid, for up to one week.
Bake a special batch for Christmas cookie exchanges (conveniently makes two baker’s dozens), to serve at Christmas parties, or as an everyday snack. When I was in middle school, after a rough day with more than one hectoring teacher (probably my teenager perspective, but still), I used to love having a few polvorones de nuez as a treat, which never failed to turn my mood from taciturn to cheerful by the second bite.
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #519, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.