Monday, December 20, 2010

A Mexican Christmas?

Forgive me the gray-on-gray blog design, but it has been raining for days, and more rain is predicted. I might as well still live in Chicago.

In my family, a Christmas tradition was to make at least 2 varieties of cookies each year, to be nibbled secretly until dessert time on Christmas Eve.  My mother would store the tins of cookies in what we called The Back Hall, which was unheated (and likely unenclosed at some point in the house's history); having to brave 50-degree "weather" to get to the cookies was no deterrent for me.  I don't think it was much of a deterrent for anyone else in the family either, since some years we came dangerously close to having no cookies on Christmas.

By far my favorite cookie was one we called a pecan sandy (sandie?). My mother obtained the recipe from a work colleague perhaps 30 years ago, and the directions called for the cookies to be rolled by hand into finger shapes, baked, dusted in powdered sugar, and dipped at one end into melted chocolate. I alternated between believing it was best to eat the chocolate end first, and thinking it was better to save the chocolate end for a most satisfying finish.  As an adult, I solved this dilemma once by dipping BOTH ends into chocolate. 
Fingers and rounds, as homage to the cookies' Mexican roots.

 For the last few years, many of my cookbooks have been in storage, first in Utah and now in Christy's garage.  I thought this would be the end of pecan sandies, but I remembered an observation of mine one year.  A guest brought us a tin of what she called Mexican wedding cookies. They were round ball-shaped cookies dusted in powdered sugar, and were green. After one bite I exclaimed, "These taste just like pecan sandies!" Many years and the Internet later, I had no trouble finding a replacement recipe for my beloved pecan sandies, which are someone's Americanized version of Mexican wedding cookies. 
I'm not sure which colleague my mother got the recipe from, since several were involved in some kind of recipe swap.  I suspect, though, the one named Sandy. Who was Filipina, not Mexican.

Caution: the baked cookies are fragile, and should be dusted and dunked with care.

Pecan Mexican Sandie Wedding Cookies
adapted from, and Sandy
1 C (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/2 C confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 C pecans, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light. Add vanilla and beat well. Add flour to butter mixture and mix well.  You may need to add up to 1 tablespoon of water to the mixture. Mix in pecan bits. 
3. Shape dough into a ball and wrap in waxed or parchment paper.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.
4. Shape dough into fingers or balls and arrange on baking sheet. 
5. Bake for 14-17 minutes, or until cookies are golden and edges are brown.
6. When cooled, roll carefully in more confectioners' sugar, and dip one end into melted chocolate (I prefer bittersweet here, but semi-sweet will work too).



  1. by the way, they were quite good! I suspect they would really not be decent candidates for dunking however given their "crumbliness." My experience with Mexican Wedding Cookies is that they are a bit harder; a less flaky dough. Anyway, this comment was to simply email you the link to today's daily email from (the site I mentioned to you earlier). This one is definitely getting printed and tested in my tiny barbie kitchen.


  2. How funny-- I was just looking at that site this morning and found this recipe that I MUST try:;gallery_recipe_btn

    I tried caramels earlier in the week but they turned into toffee (which is equally delicious but could crack a tooth or two). Hopefully this recipe will stay soft.

    Your chocolate ganache tart reminds me of this one I've been wanting to try:

    Oooh, we could have a bake-a-thon!

  3. Wow, Mia, I can see how much passion you have for food. I love Mexican Sandie Cookies. I didn't know what they were called, but I have eaten these cookies with pecans and I love them. The cookies melts in the mouth! Mmmmm. I also saw your post with fish and I was impressed! It's intimidating for me to buy a whole fish and cut it myself.

  4. I definitely love food! I spend a lot of time thinking about it each day. ;)
    I'm still not sure what the real name of these cookies is. I blended two names together in my recipe. What I do know is, they are very easy to make and even easier to eat!