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Mexican Wedding Cookies & a Cookie Swap

DESSERT RECIPES- Mexican Wedding Cookies

Over dinner one night in Oakland, I swapped stories and ideas with Luna. We share a love of tea and as such had decided it would be fun to meet up and bake at my new digs using tea. Weeks and a wedding later, the idea was revisited and began growing until I swapped out the tea baking get-together into a cookie swap.

I had never hosted a cookie swap before.

Seemed simple enough. Invite guests. Check. Have guests bring homemade cookies to swap. Check.

But then it went in many different directions. I’ve been known to put my own spin on the occasional party, such as last year’s Birthday Chili cook-off where guests voted for each other’s chili using print-outs of Willie Nelson and varying degrees of “Willie Likes It”… The year before that, a cupcake decorating party thrown in the spirit of Project Runway, complete with a runway and a backdrop illuminated with the words Project Cupcake. Yup. My spin.

So when I started thinking how to do the Cookie Swap I began tossing around ideas. People walking in and drawing a slip of paper out of a hat and then later looking for their word’s other half (i.e. “candy & cane”). Distributing cookies like a secret santa party where people could exchange the cookies they receive for another person’s.

Nathan and I discussed how to proceed. And we went for simple, straightforward: everyone bring 36 homemade cookies and the recipe to share. Our first Christmas together, we are making traditions as we fashion our lives together. The cookie swap cemented our first party for us to co-host! Nathan’s the ultimate party sidekick.

The guests began arriving. Heather brought homemade Scottish shortbread. She told the story of earning the recipe from her grandmother which entailed baking them with her and then sending her some to make sure they were okay. I loved this and especially the part of her learning through shadowing her grandmother. Family time / cooking time.

Stephanie and I chatted it up at that same dinner in Oakland now several months ago where we talked about her studying linguistics and her mad baking skills. I’m still looking forward to baking macarons with her! She brought and adapted a recipe from David Lebovitz for Meyer Lemon Rosemary Madeleines and Berry Pumpkin Madeleines. The glaze on the Madeleines gave them a delightful crisp and tang of berry or lemon. Yum!

Anita and Mike came bearing several types of cookies. Armed with meringues and her jam thumbprint cookies. We were excited to nibble and nosh because we knew these would be phenomenal. I met Anita at the SOS Bake Sale this year. She single-handedly organized the logistics and bakers for the sale with poise and grace. Her jamprint cookies were a fun take on a wedding cookie with a thumb print filled with TellTale jam Sangria chocolate jam. These reminded me of Mexican cookies with their specific crumb and especially tasted great with a glass of milk.

Irvin and AJ showed up bearing a plastic bin filled to the brim. Irvin has a way of making people laugh in between bites of his creative concoctions. We met originally at the SOS Bake Sale because we were the two people to bring gluten free goodies. He definitely leaves an impression and has quickly become my twitter BFF, my sidekick at food blogger get-togethers and my go-to source for gluten free baking. He baked up Marbleized Lemon and Ginger cookies. The texture was soft with a slight crunch of sugar at the end.

Jen (aka Jeters) showed up bearing Ginger Cranberry Cookies. Jeters recently roasted an entire pig and we talked about how she stealthily did it in a tiny kitchen. Her spunk and spirit make any party more fun. We laughed at a food blogger conference earlier this year as her name was called as the winner of a well outfitted albeit huge oven unit. The Ginger Cranberry cookies were small and bite-sized sweet and spicy morsels. I ate mine with a glass of milk.

We had a great time chatting it up and sitting around telling stories in between the plates of cookies being passed. This was such a great way to celebrate the holidays!

Nathan and I contributed by baking up some Mexican Wedding Cookies.

Here’s the thing. I had every intention of baking some up for the wedding. I told my Mom and Tia that I would be baking up cookies the Sunday evening before the wedding to include in the guest welcome bags. As I got closer to that Sunday, it so didn’t happen. Irvin offered to make some, but I was definitely in the space of overload and began molting ideas, letting them go as fast as they actually occurred to me. It was my way of staying sane. And his offer was beyond nice.

So there really wasn’t any veering from the cookie of choice for the year. I found the recipe at new friend Amber’s blog. She too is from the Southwest and recently posted a recipe of Mexican Wedding Cookies from a Southwest recipe book. That was all I needed to know. I trust her Southwest instincts and it only fit that one food blogger inform this food blogger friend cookie swap.

While this may be my first cookie swap, I’m looking forward to continuing the tradition next year… who doesn’t love starting a new tradition and one imbued with sugar…

DESSERT RECIPES- Mexican Wedding Cookies

 

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MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES
Found at Bluebonnets and Brownies Adapted from “Mexican Wedding Cookies” in The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh

YIELD: Makes approximately 3 dozen

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. confectioners’ (powdered) sugar plus 1 cup for dusting
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat butter and 1/2 c. sugar together in a mixer on high until light and fluffy. While still mixing, add in the vanilla, salt, and chopped pecans, and continue until well combined.

Mix in flour by hand, stirring only until combined. Do not overmix or the cookies will be tough.

From dough into crescent shapes (I did this by using a cookie scoop. I’d make a scoop, and then cut the scoop in 1/2 to create half moons), and bake 12-16 minutes until the edges are golden brown.

Allow to cool. Put the rest of the sugar in a large bowl. When the cookies are cool to the touch, place 2-3 at a time into the bowl, and shake to coat with sugar. Once all the cookies are coated once, sift the remaining sugar over the cookies to give a second coating.

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Categories
Recipes

Orange Black Cookies

DESSERT RECIPES- Orange & Black Cookies

2010 has been a bit of a doozy as years go. You take the sweet and the bitter.

It was the year Holland almost clinched the World Cup in South Africa. For several weeks on pre-set days, I take on a resemblance of a character from Halloween in a non-October timeframe. An ardent fan of watching the orange and black jerseys scuttle on the field, I took the early bus on several occasions to work, just so I could sit at my self-designated World Cup pub and watch the matches with others excited about the possible outcomes on the field. The rag tag crew that gathered at the pub seemed to play on the same soccer team or that’s the impression I got. Over steaming cups of coffee, we would yell at the screen, along with the bartender, sidled up to the bar. Most of them quietly eschewed my female presence among their male gathering except the bartender. He called me the Dutch team’s “lucky charm” and said when I walked in wearing my Holland jersey, they made their goals.

The final match conveniently fell on my best friend Olga’s birthday. I happened to be house-sitting at a sprawling home with a tv and plenty of space to accommodate our two rooms full of friends to a birthday cum world cup viewing party. While guests sat on the plush red couches, I sat perched on the edge of a red ottoman close to the tv, willing the orange and blacks, the Dutch to win. They played dirty football that I described as “pirate soccer,” tripping and pulling their way toward an inconceivable number of yellow cards. Even still, they were my team, part of my ancestry and in the back of my mind, I played that foolish game of thinking if they could just win, somehow it might ease the pain of my Dad’s recent death.

He loved soccer and even was responsible several years in a row for bringing a young Bolivian soccer team to my hometown to play in the Dallas cup. He would hoot and holler from the stands. He brought noisemakers. He was that guy. After the game, he took the team out to dinner with other friends where they celebrated their heritage and the camaraderie of teamwork. My spoken Dutch equates to counting one to seven and a children’s song about a dog that barks “woof wof woof wof;” whereas his fluency seldom came out but when it did, his face came alive as he chattered excitedly. It was part of the fabric of self. It was always the part of him he kept most tucked away in Texas. The part of him, I had hoped to one day understand better by traveling with him to the Netherlands.

You can imagine my chagrin when the Spanish made that final goal and with it, amid the cheers in the room, the hopefulness of the party diminished as I fought to control my tears. It was irrational, but still his absence was so new. In the early days especially, so much life feels transcribed by their voice and touch… But I collected myself and off we went to sing happy birthday to a beaming Olga.

Two weeks ago, I got married.

Nathan’s passion for baseball and the Giants puts my love of World Cup soccer to shame. His knowledge of statistics, player’s batting averages, names and detailed information on radio announcers gives serious pause. The guy could easily bleed orange and black. For his birthday a few years ago, we rounded up several of his friends and family to celebrate at a game at AT&T park. In between the sixth and seventh innings, the message “Happy Birthday Nathan” lighted the jumbo-tron as we unpeeled the paper linings of mini carrot cupcakes I’d made for the occasion. Oh yeah, he’s an avid Giants fan.

So it should really come as no surprise that on our honeymoon, we found ourselves wandering to a local pub in the town where we were staying to nosh on bar food, drink Oktoberfest off the draft and revel in the Phillies – Giants playoffs, though sometimes we left with more of a knot in our stomachs than a good feeling. The bartender began memorizing our drinks and recognizing us as we came in later in the week. He said he felt more invested in who won because of our dedication.

Nathan’s enthusiasm was contagious. Where I might have been a bit of a fan when we first met, I was now invested and took pride in yukking it up with the guys about how the team was playing. By game six of the playoffs, I drove us through the rain to the ballpark, trying to eke out a place for us at the Public House bar. No luck there, we found ourselves at a tapas microbrewery called the Thirsty Bear. I know personally how much better a game is when you’re surrounded by people intent on the outcome you too desire. My date night to Nathan, I wanted him to be thronged by orange and black. When they won, he pumped his fist up and down, then mechanically clapped his palms together exultant.

For two weeks, I’ve worn orange and black through the mostly black clad streets downtown, a nod to my dedication to see the Giants go all the way in the World Series. This has been a mite strange since normally the Rangers would be my other go-to baseball team. I am Texan after all and my first ball game was watching the Rangers. Friends have teasingly scorned me for not rooting for the Rangers, but I’m a bit of a misfit like those Giants and found myself lured into their success or defeat. Tonight, they did it. They won the World Series! If you were here in San Francisco, you might hear horns honking, people yelling and whooping it up. Fireworks crackling in the night sky. People excited to be a part of the winning team.

One rainy day during the honeymoon a few weeks back, we trolled a used bookstore. He wandered down to fantasy / sci fi as I perused the poetry section, then meandered over to food. I stumbled upon David Lebovitz’s “Ready for Dessert” and while thumbing through the pages came across the recipe for one of my favorite cookies. So in honor, of the Giants I’ve adapted a similar recipe from Gourmet magazine: celebrating the Giants’ victory, the Dutch legacy that keeps me clad in orange and black every four years and the passage of a baseball team from New York to San Francisco. I give you the Orange & Black.

orange & black cookies

 

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ORANGE & BLACKS
adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Think of them as Black & White cookies, just better. They take my love of chocolate and pair it with a subtle orange. It’s the new little black dress of cakey cookies. Trust me, they’re a home run. Hah! Eat while weaing a giants ballcap or perhaps if you’re lucky, a holland jersey or perhaps in New York…

COOKIES

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
ICINGS
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Make cookies:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Spoon 1/4 cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill (to cool quickly), about 5 minutes.

Make icings while cookies chill:
Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, orange juice, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.

Ice cookies:
Turn cookies flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over other half.

Note: If you can stand the wait, cookies taste better if cooled without being chilled.

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