Since I bake with what seems like a compulsion, I must admit that I often eat dessert for dinner. Photographed above is my Wednesday night dinner- Cinnamon Orange Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon tinted Mexican Wedding Cookies. I know… it might seem like I went a little cinnamon crazy, but I had good reason- Nikki at CrazyDelicious is hosting a Master Baker event, and this months theme in cinnamon!
So there were three things going on in my mad kitchen: cookies that are light, nutty and tender, hot chocolate that is perfectly rich and full of flavor , and funky orange slices that I would take back if I could…. Let’s start with the cookies. They’re outta sight!
I have a vague memory of my darling Aunt DeeDee making these Mexican Wedding Cookies for me as a child. What I remember about them was how the powdered sugar accumulated on my fingers the more cookies I ate. And I remember the satisfaction I had licking my fingers clean after eating a dozen or so of these cookies. These cookies are a breeze to make, and they are light, tender filled with a rich cinnamon and pecan flavor. I only added a teaspoon of cinnamon, so it didn’t overwhelm the reipe, but really complimented the toasted pecan flavor. You must must try these!
Cinnamon tinted Mexican Wedding Cookies
adapted from Demolition Desserts
2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted, plus 1/2 to 3/4 cup for coating the cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened but still cool
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons water
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup finely ground toasted pecans, from about 1 1/4 cup pecan halves
Position racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pour 1/2 cup powdered sugar for coating into a shallow bowl or plate and pour the granulated sugar into another shallow bowl. Set them aside until you are ready to coat the dough.
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and 2 cups powdered sugar for about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and water and stir until just combined. Add the flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and pecans and stir for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles.
Here comes the only trick to making this cookie: use a light touch when shaping the dough. Lightly press the crumbly chunks of dough together between your palms to form balls the size of walnuts, being careful not to compact them. Don’t try to form perfect, smooth little globes. You want to push the dough together just enough so the balls hold their shape. The looser the balls, the lighter the cookie. As the balls are formed, set them aside of a baking sheet or tray.
When all the balls are formed, roll each ball first in the granulated sugar and then in the powdered sgar and place on the prepared pans, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Don’t throw away the powdered sugar yet because you will give the cookies one final roll in it after they have been baked and cooled.
Bake the cookies, rotating the pan after about 7 minutes, for 14 to 18 minutes, or until lightly golden and just beginning to show cracks. While the cookies are baking, clean any dough crumbs out of your bowl of powdered sugar. If the powdered sugar seems low, add the remaining 1/4 cup to the bowl. You will have powdered sugar left over in the bowl when you finish, but having a good amount will make it easier to give the cookies the final coat.
When the cookies are done, let them cool completely on the pans, or transfer them to a cooling rack. A cooling rack helps the cookies cool faster. When they are completely cool, roll them gently in the powdered sugar one last time
These cooies have the best texture the day they are made. They are fragile, so store them covered on a place instead of in a cookie jar, and eat them within 24 hours… that shouldn’t be a problem.
Cookies before they have been baked
Cinnamon Orange Hot Chocolate
adapted from Hershey
makes just over 4 cups
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Cocoa
1 ounce bitter sweet chocolate (60%- 65%)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup hot water
4 cups milk
zest of 1 orange
Mix the sugar, cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon and salt in a sauce pan. Stir in the water. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Simmer and stir for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Stir in the milk and heat, stirring often. Do not bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, add orange zest, and left mixture sit, covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, strain the hot chocolate through a fine mesh strainer to catch all the orange zest. Serve and enjoy.
These blood oranges were grown by two dear friends of mine. They were perfection just as they were. I decided to try and dry thin orange slices in the oven at 250 degrees F, for about an hour. The color and flavor of the oranges intensified, but next time I would definitely use these blood oranges as a garnish just as they are- beautiful, juicy orange goodness.