Lena wears many hats – mother, wife, PR specialist, and excellent baker – and she switches between all these roles with ease. Here's her recipe for festive Mexican wedding cakes.
When was the first time you baked these?
I grew up baking these cookies with my mother, but the first time I really baked them on my own was in my twenties. And now I make them with my boys.
Why are they called Mexican wedding cakes?
I have to admit, I don’t know. But then again, in my family we have a dish called ‘pretzel salad’, which we consider a salad. However, if you ask anyone else they will say it’s a dessert, since it has cream cheese and jello – so we have different definitions for things.
Place the whole pecans on a paper towel and heat in the microwave at 30 second intervals until fragrant, darker brown and lightly glistening. Make sure to sift the pecans between intervals to ensure even toasting
Remove the paper towel and nuts from the microwave and place the paper towel on your cookie rack so the nuts can cool
Once cool, use a food processor to roughly grind the nuts (be careful not to overdo it, as they add texture to the finished cookie); set aside
Beat the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add a half cup of icing sugar and vanilla and beat until well blended. Beat in the flour, then the pecans
Divide the dough in half and flatten each half into a disk. Wrap separately in cling film and place in the fridge until cold (approx. 30 minutes)
Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4, and line a cookie sheet with baking parchment. Whisk remaining icing sugar and cinnamon in a pie dish to blend. Set aside
Working with one disk of chilled dough, roll 2 tsp between your palms into balls. Arrange the balls on the cookie sheet, spacing them 1.5cm apart
Bake the cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes
Let them cool for 5 minutes on a cookie sheet, then gently toss in cinnamon sugar to coat completely while they're still warm. Transfer the coated cookies to a rack to cool completely
Repeat the procedure with the remaining half of the dough