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.
Caution: the baked cookies are fragile, and should be dusted and dunked with care.
Pecan Mexican Sandie Wedding Cookies
adapted from foodnetwork.com, 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).