On average, two to four baked goods are produced in my kitchen on a weekly basis. During the Christmas season, that number rises exponentially. Today for instance, had you dropped by for a visit, I could have offered you fruitcake, homemade s’mores with a marshmallow cap torched á la minute, chocolate cake roll with salted caramel buttercream filling, chocolate meringue batons, and pink peppermint meringue kisses to go along with your coffee or tea.
I’ve even ventured into cookie baking territory as evidenced by this weeks “Dreamy Crack Bars” post. Here is the other type of cookie I like to bake during this holly jolly time of year: nubby, crumbly, buttery, sugar-dusted Mexican wedding cakes, festooned and prettied up with Grinch-green pistachios, sunny orange zest, and exotic, floral cardamom.
I took them to the annual Serious Eats cookie swap just last week and will be making a few more batches for people on my “Nice” list.
ORANGE, CARDAMOM, & PISTACHIO MEXICAN WEDDING CAKES
Equipment: food processor, electric mixer, 2 baking sheets, parchment paper, cooling rack, mixing bowls
Makes about 32 cookies
1 cup roasted, salted, shelled pistachios
1 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pulse pistachios and orange zest in food processor until almonds are coarsely ground. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Pause mixer and add ½ cup confectioners’ sugar. Beat on low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula; add vanilla. Mix on medium-high speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds.
Pause mixer. Add flour, ¾ teaspoon cardamom, salt, and nut mixture; mix on medium-low speed until dough comes together, 60 to 90 seconds.
With rubber spatula, scrape sides and bottom of bowl, patting dough down to unify it. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using a 1 tablespoon measure, scoop dough out onto prepared baking sheets, then quickly roll them between palms into balls and space them ½ inch apart. Lightly press cookies down to ½-inch thickness.
Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom (they will remain pale on top) 15 to 20 minutes.
While cookies bake, whisk together remaining 1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, remaining 1/8 teaspoon cardamom, and cinnamon in large bowl; set aside.
Transfer baking sheet to cooling rack and cool cookies on sheet for 5 minutes. Gently toss warm cookies in confectioners’ sugar and transfer to cooling rack to cool completely, 30 to 60 minutes.
Cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.