Monday, 12 December 2011

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011


Who doesn't love receiving good old-fashioned snail mail, especially when that snail mail contains COOKIES? No one, that's who! I was immediately sold when I saw a buzz going around about The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap of 2011, co-hosted by Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen. And great it really was! Initially open to just US and Canadian residents, requests started pouring in from other countries, and if they had enough people to participate, they got to come out and play, too. According to the update we all received today, over 22,000 cookies were sent out as part of this event. Amazing!


Truth be told, while it was one of the things I made most as a child and teenager, I haven't made cookies in ages. I made one batch for F. shortly after we met, but that was the first and last time anything resembling cookies has come out of my oven since. Upon joining the exchange, I immediately researched which cookies would last best in the mail, both in texture and durability. An article surfaced from All Recipes with some great ideas. One of the suggestions was for Mexican Wedding Cakes.


I've been dying to try Mexican Wedding Cakes ever since Nelly posted her recipe on Cooking With Books back in October. Considering they're essentially a butter cookie with a wonderful, nutty twist, I thought they fit in perfectly with the holiday season, too. And doesn't any food with 'wedding' in the name conjure up a lovely image? (And, in retrospect, how fitting after just posting about Nelly's wedding?) So it was settled. Mexican Wedding Cakes it would be. 

What I love about All Recipes is the comments section after every recipe. I always find the most helpful tips and inside scoop from users who have made the recipes over and over. It's from those comments that I derived most of the adaptations for this recipe.

This was about as fine as I could get them before I had chopper's fatigue!


Mexican Wedding Cakes
Adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt (or omit and use salted butter)
  • 1 1/4 cups very finely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Beat the butter with the vanilla briefly, until just mixed and still somewhat firm. Sift together the flour, icing sugar and salt, then blend into the butter mixture little by little until a loose dough forms. Roll dough into small, round balls and insert one chocolate chunk in the center (optional).
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Cool completely then roll in additional icing sugar.
Makes 40 cookies.
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I ended up making two batches of these - so 80 small cookies in total. It's one of those 'simple' recipes that I think you really have to practice to get right. For the second batch, the next day, I omitted the chocolate chunks because I wound up preferring the simple interplay between the butter and walnuts. I also flattened out half of the balls to make them look more cookie-like, and rather than rolling the other half in icing sugar, I put the sugar in a fine mesh sieve and tapped it over top the of all the cookies. The result was much more even and pleasing to the eye.

While I like the look of the flattened out cookies, I prefer the texture of the more traditional ball shape.

It is better to give than to receive and all that, but it was definitely fun to receive some cookies, too!
So far I've only gotten one shipment (which is fine, because I suspect my recipients got theirs at the last minute, too), but what a shipment it was! I received these White Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal cookies (below) from Amanda at The Vanilla Beanery in Toronto. I had one for breakfast the day they arrived, because, well, they had oatmeal in them? A big thanks to Amanda for such a wonderful treat!

White Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal cookies from The Vanilla Beanery. Visit Amanda's blog for the recipe!


The deadline to mail our cookies was Monday, December 5th, and I got mine out just in the nick of time. After being on top of things for months, I've gotten a little behind lately with the new job and a lot less time on my hands, so I hope my three lovely bloggers get there boxes of goodies soon! I sent them express and have been not so patiently tracking their progress with Canada Post. I'm sorry if you were worried that they wouldn't arrive!



A selection of my second batch.

What's your favourite Christmas cookie? Rumour has it that, over on the West Coast, Jasmine at Cook That Book is also posting a round up of Christmas cookies today. Check it out later today for some great gift ideas! Can you believe Christmas is just 2 weeks away?

9 comments:

  1. Ooh! Only if I had known about this earlier! I would love to get hold of your mexican wedding cakes! they look super delicious. love that shot of the cookies being rolled in sugar...

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  2. Probably one of my favorite cookies. Just discovered them recently. Definitely went right to the top of the list quickly. Now looking at your recipe.

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  3. These wedding cookies look delicious! I was just about to go searching for a recipe like this when I saw your post on the cookie swap facebook page! Totally planning on making these

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  4. Those look great. And I love your labels! Where did you get them?

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  5. I love love these cookies! I giggled when you said chopper's fatigued. Next time, try putting them in a plastic baggie and mashing them with a mallet!

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  6. I love love love mexican wedding cookies. Yours look amazing. Can't wait for next years swap!

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  7. good choice! mexican wedding cakes are classic christmas cookies in my book. I've never tried them walnuts though, just ground almonds.

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  8. I am addicted to these Mexican Wedding Cakes (although I call them pecan balls)! Amanda's cookies look delicious too. Hoping to participate in this next year. What fun!

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  9. Mmm...these look great! I wish I had enough time to participate in this fun project. Next year :)

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