Mexican Wedding Cookies. Mexican Wedding Cakes. Russian Tea Cakes. Butterballs. It’s all the same thing — a delicate, crumbly cookie that melts in your mouth and tastes like heaven! These are made with pistachios for a unique twist on this old favorite.
Mexican Wedding Cookies seemed to show up first in the early 1950s during the very early days of the Cold War. Many of y’all probably don’t remember diving under your desks for missile drills but I sure do! It was crazy stuff. Anyway, Mexican Wedding Cakes (which aren’t even cakes, they’re cookies) may have once been known as Russian Tea Cakes but since Russia was the scariest nation on Earth at the time the name was switched to a more friendly, peaceful moniker – Mexican Wedding Cakes. But they’re cookies. That’s not confusing at all.
Obviously we still had a strong border and drug cartels were not invented yet.
You can call them whatever you want to. One of my 1950s cookbooks calls them Butterballs. Sadly, that makes me think of turkey… and that’s a gross flavor for a cookie. Mexican Wedding Cookies is what I usually call them — drug cartels be damned.
Some of them are shaped in a crescent shape while others are more like small balls. It doesn’t really matter which shape you choose — they are good either way. I prefer the crescent because I think it’s prettier and sometimes I like to dip the ends in chocolate but I promise you I’ll be popping them in my mouth no matter what shape they are.
The major mistake I see people make is not getting a good, thick layer of Confectioner’s sugar on them. There’s a trick to it and, lucky you, I am going to share it with you. Once you take them out of the oven let them cool for a few minutes, maybe like five, and then roll them in Confectioner’s sugar. Let them cool completely and you’ll see that a lot of the sugar will have melted off. It’s OK, you are going to roll them in that Confectioner’s sugar once more. The sticky residue left by the first coat of sugar helps the second coat adhere. It’s brilliant if I do say so myself.
Most of the time you’ll see these made with pecans. I love them that way! Once in awhile it will be walnuts. Here I chose pistachios because of the unique flavor and richness from the added fat in the pistachios. Use nut you like. I haven’t found a good substitute for nuts in these if you happen to be allergic, although if you aren’t allergic to sunflower seeds those work relatively well in this recipe. Just use the same proportions. These absolutely do NOT ship well.
Oh, and always make more than you think you’ll need. Somehow they *evaporate* pretty quickly.
Mexican Wedding Cookies
Mexican Wedding Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, , room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely chopped pistachios, (I grind them in a blender)
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
- Stir in vanilla.
- Add the flour and pistachios and mix until well blended.
- Cover and chill for 3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Shape dough into balls or crescents.
- Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from pan to cool on wire racks for 5 minutes.
- Roll cookies gently in Confectioner's sugar.
- When cookies are cool, roll in confectioners' sugar. Store in an airtight container.