Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipe – Mexican Wedding Cakes

I’m a “healthy living” experimenter, albeit, at a beginner level.  And few things delight me more than dragging others down those rabbit holes with me.  It’s just more fun to do a detox with a friend. More than once I have returned from a social outing wondering if I spent just a bit too long over a glass of red wine chatting about the latest research on magnesium or while nibbling on carrot sticks and crab dip steered a bit harder than polite the direction of a discussion into the problem with lectins in the diet.

On the other hand, there are most definitely times when a splurge is in order.

The end-of-year holiday season is one of those (extended) times, and a favorite Christmas treat in my Bangkok household is the Mexican Wedding Cake, aka the Russian Tea Cake, aka Italian Polvorones aka plain ole butterballs.  Little balls of powdered sugar, flour and buttery goodness.  Of the many versions of this dessert I have tested over the years, top honors go Shelia Lukens and Julee Rosso’s “Butterball” in their classic,  The Silver Palette Cookbook.  What is noteworthy with this recipe is the distinctive use of honey as a sweetener and the high pecan nut ratio in the batter compared with other versions.  An added bonus is that it’s one of the simplest recipes out there.

Truth be told, when I see a powdered sugar puff ball of a cookie heading my way on a cookie tray during the holiday season, I know to lower my expectations.  The others can be disappointing.  This one is really exceptionally good.

My dream iteration, I suppose, now that I’m Plant Paradox smitten, would be a thoroughly lectin-free adaptation that tastes even 3/4 as good.

I’ll work on that.

Meanwhile, if you’re in an indulging frame of mind, feel free to give this very slightly adapted version of The Silver Palette’s butterballs a try.

Mexican Wedding Cookies
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
1 hr 35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
  • 8 tbsp salted butter (preferably French) softened
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 c unbleached all purpose flout
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c pecans toasted in a dry skillet and chopped into pea sized pieces
  • 3/4 c powdered sugar
  1. Cream butter and honey together with a hand mixer.  Mix in flour, salt and vanilla.  Stir in pecans.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge 1 hour.

    While dough chills, preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.

    Form balls using approximately 2 tsp dough.  They will not expand when baking so you may be able to fit the entire batch onto one baking sheet.  Bake 35-40m minutes.

    When semi-cool, roll in powdered sugar.  If you feel like it, roll a second time.

    These cookies freeze flawlessly.  They are also just as tasty frozen, though, so watch out or you may accidentally eat an entire batch.


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