Hey, it’s 2011! I sure haven’t been around much lately. This year I’m going to try to work on that. I’m not going to force anything or stress about deadlines, though. Some weeks and months I just don’t have as much free time or energy and nothing bad will happen if I don’t enter this thing or photograph that. My baking at home is to make me happy. Which makes no sense when you consider how much baking I did in December at home, just to send things to people I miss.
I had fun though, and was rewarded with reports of happy snarfing from around the country. Among a couple of old favorites I included some new treats, many of which were variations on recipes I use at work.
You won’t be seeing posts on the triangle-shaped biscotti, salted bitter brownies or experimental fudge cookies; though they all came out delicious I considered them to be sort of works-in-progress.
But these cookies? They’re pretty much my ideal.
A crunchy, chocolatey twist on the classic Mexican Wedding/Russian Tea Cake. Shortbread dough, classically mixed with toasted chopped nuts, instead is peppered with cocoa nibs. Texturally fun to eat, with a sophisticated bitter flavor, these are among my very favorite cookies that we’ve done for the cookie plate at work.
Making them at home, I wanted to give them my own personal twist, something cute and clever and tasty that would make these cookies even more interesting and unique. So I thought about cocoa nibs…and what goes with cocoa nibs? Cinnamon and spice. Perfect! I took a little artistic liberty on the name and added a little cinnamon and cayenne to the outer layer of powdered sugar. And then I baked them and packed them and sent them with love.
Oaxacan Wedding Cakes:
- 12 oz. butter (not cold but not soft or melty either)
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup cocoa nibs
- More powdered sugar, for rolling
- Cinnamon to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. You will probably have to scrape your bowl and beater(s) a few time. Make sure there are no stray lumps of butter in the mixture. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt all at once and beat on low until the mixture comes together, scraping down as needed to create an even mixture without overmixing the dough. Gently mix in the cocoa nibs and pack into an airtight container (makes about one quart of dough). Seal the container and refrigerate the dough overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325F. Use a spoon to scoop chunks of dough and roll them quickly into roughly 1″ balls in your hands. Place at least 1″ apart on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so, until the cookies are very lightly browned on the bottom and slightly cracked on the top. Allow to cool completely on the sheets before removing. Combine powdered sugar with cinnamon and cayenne pepper to taste (you want a cinnamony smell and a slight bite from the pepper, neither should be overwhelming). Once the cookies are cool, roll thoroughly in powdered sugar mixture, more than once if necessary to get an even opaque white coating.
Makes about 6 dozen cookies.