Mexican wedding cookies are delicate treats made using equal parts walnuts-to-flour, and each bite crumbles with ease. The dough balls are rolled in powdered sugar twice for extra sweetness.
Mexican wedding cookies (aka Russian tea cakes or snowballs) are popular for special occasions, especially during the holidays. What makes them so desirable is their dense, yet crumbly, buttery texture. That’s because the cookie dough base is simply chopped nuts, flour, sugar, and butter. There are no leavening agents or eggs, so these cookies keep their shape with very little spread.
Each cookie is rolled in powdered sugar, giving them their distinctive decadent coating. However, I still think they taste amazing without it too. This recipe is very easy to whip up in a stand mixer and the process does not require any refrigeration.
Toast the walnuts
To enhance the walnut flavor in the raw nuts, toast them in the oven before chopping. This helps activate the natural oils which better releases their flavor into the cookie base. The heat also makes the nuts more fragrant and crunchy. If you have pre-roasted nuts, you can skip this step.
Chop the nuts (two-ways)
Chop half of the walnuts in a food processor until fine in texture. Breaking them down into very small pieces will add an extra nutty flavor to the dough while making it more compact. Chop the rest of the nuts more coarsely to create bigger chunks for a satisfying crunch.
Double coat the cookies
The best way to completely coat these Mexican wedding cookies is first when they are still warm, then after they have cooled. Tossing them when fresh out of the oven lightly melt’s the sugar on the surface, so that it sticks better. However, the pure white color is not as consistent. The second coating of sugar when the cookies are cool ensures an even, prettier appearance.
Storing and freezing
- Refrigerate rolled cookie dough for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Freeze rolled cookie dough for up to 1 month in a resealable plastic bag. Defrost before baking.
- Baked cookies can be frozen for up to 1 month before rolling in powdered sugar. Allow to defrost to room temperature, then coat in sugar.
Customize the recipe
- Chopped pecans are a tasty switch up
- Use almond meal and roughly chopped almonds
- Hazelnut flour and chopped hazelnuts
- Add 1 teaspoon almond extract instead of vanilla
- Add cinnamon or other spices to the powdered sugar
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Soften the butter, but not too much
Use butter that’s cool, yet pliable enough to cream with the sugar. Target 60 to 65ºF (16 to 18ºC), or when you can press the butter and it indents with some slight resistance. The butter keeps the dough cohesive and holds its snow globe shape. If the butter gets too warm, especially after whipping with the sugar, the fat molecules will melt and not be able to keep them in a ball shape.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
- 2 cups (175 g) raw walnut halves, divided
- 2 cups (286 g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon (2 g) kosher salt, (2g)
- 1 cup (250 g) unsalted butter, softened to 60 to 65ºF (16 to 18ºC)
- ⅓ cup (65 g) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (117 g) powdered sugar, more as needed for rolling
- Set the oven rack to the upper-middle and lower-middle position. Preheat to 325ºF (160°C).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Toast the walnuts in the oven on a small baking sheet for 6 minutes, stirring halfway through. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of walnuts to a food processor and pulse about 15 times until finely ground texture is achieved. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl.
- Add the remaining 1 cup of walnuts to the food processor and pulse 3 to 5 times, until roughly chopped. Add to the finely ground walnuts.
- Add flour and salt to the walnuts, stir to combine.
- Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the softened butter and granulated sugar on medium speed, 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl halfway through.
- Add vanilla and mix on low speed until incorporated, 30 seconds.
- Add the walnut mixture and combine on low speed until just incorporated and dough comes together for about 30 seconds.
- Measure the dough into leveled 1 tablespoon (15g, ½ ounce) portions. Roll into a ball and place 1-inch apart on the baking sheets, they should be about 1-inch in diameter. Bake 20 to 23 cookies per pan.
- Bake until lightly golden in color and the bottoms are browned about 16 to 18 minutes. Rotate the pan and switch positions halfway through baking.
- Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes.
- Add powdered sugar to a shallow bowl. Roll the cookies inside while still warm until completely coated, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Once cooled, roll them in powdered sugar for a second coat or sprinkle on top with more sugar, shaking off any excess. This can be done right before serving for the most attractive appearance.
- Roasted walnuts can be used instead of raw. Skip toasting (step 3) if using pre-roasted nuts.
- Pecans can be substituted for walnuts.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 gluten-free baking flour.