mexican wedding cookies.

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When I was little, my mom hosted an annual Christmas party. Aside from an excuse to wear patent leather mary janes and tie adults’ shoe strings together underneath the table, I loved these parties because my mom made Mexican wedding cookies– a cookie I deemed exceptionally festive and delicious (plus, it was fun to lick the powdered sugar off my finger tips).

This year for Christmas Eve, Christian and I decided to spend it alone together. (I love that phrase “alone together.”) We made a big pot of spaghetti, and for dessert I made these cookies. Healthy? No. But festive and delicious? Absolutely. These cookies store well too– for over a week if you keep ’em in an air tight container.

I’m a bit baked-out after the holidays, but I still wanted to share this recipe with you since it’s such a family favorite.

love, molly

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen

1 cup almonds OR pecans
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 C sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 cup almonds or pecans on a baking sheet; toast until fragrant, about 12 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.

Put toasted nuts, flour, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor; process until nuts are finely chopped, about 1 minute. Set aside.

Cream butter and 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla and almond extracts, and mix until combined. Add the almond mixture, and mix on low until dough just comes together. Don’t overmix.

Roll dough into twenty 1 1/2-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheets, spaced 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with your palm.

Bake cookies until lightly browned around the edges, about 25 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to a wire rack; let stand until cool enough to handle.

Place remaining 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Roll warm cookies in sugar, reserving any remaining sugar. Return cookies to baking sheets. Let cookies cool 15 minutes, and roll again. Serve!

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peanut butter cookies with hershey’s kisses.

And a gratuitous shot of my ridiculous new slippers.

Can one wear too many polka dots? I think this shot screams YES! definitively.

There’s something perfectly nostalgic about a cookie with a kiss in the middle. These cookies remind me of being little, and that’s one of the reasons grown-ups love the holidays.

I’m prone to hyperbole, but I think this might be the greatest peanut butter cookie recipe I’ve ever made. The recipe comes from Magnolia Bakery in NYC, and it yields a chewy, soft cookie– exactly the kind of peanut butter cookie you hope for when you set out to make them. One of the recipe’s secrets is that you roll the cookies in sugar right before you pop them in the oven, adding a slight crunch to the outer edges of the cookie, while the inside remains chewy, soft, so good that they’re dangerous.

What are your favorite cookies this time of year? It’s tough to choose, but I think these may be mine.

lv, molly

P.S. Like me, you may wish to give a majority of these cookies away, since they’re easy to keep eating. :)

I love this mixer!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Dark Chocolate Kisses
Adapted from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook
Makes about 3 dozen

1 1/4 C all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C peanut butter at room temperature (I used smooth, but chunky would be great too)
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 Tbl milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
For sprinkling: 3 Tbl sugar
1 bag dark chocolate hershey’s kisses

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars, and beat until smooth. Add the egg, and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly.

Place 3 Tbl sugar — the remaining tablespoons — on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, and roll into a ball. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork or your fingers, lightly press down, but do not overly flatten cookies.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake! Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely. Place a kiss in the middle of each cookie.

The cookies dusted with raw sugar

Unwrapping the kisses was as oddly enjoyable as popping bubble wrap

Yes, please

Unnecessary but festive shot of our sad (but adorable?) little tree

gingerbread men!!!

First things first, I have some really exciting news. CHRISTIAN GOT ME A KITCHEN AIDE MIXER!!! It’s magical with its sleek white exterior, stainless steel bowl, and quick mixing capabilities! It emulsified melted butter and brown sugar like nobody’s business! This thing might be the best thing to happen to my kitchen since… well, who knows. It tops everything I have, and my love for it may be approaching obsession.

I'm sorry for being so awkward-- I don't think I can help it.

It’s nearing winter break, and I’ve decided to be a nicer teacher than I normally am (ha… kidding… no, I’m not; I gave them an incredibly hard exam today) by baking several kinds of cookies for my students. I polled the Seniors, and gingerbread men and chocolate chip came out on top. I decided not to healthify these recipes because, well, it’s the holidays. And my classroom policy is that students can only eat fruits and vegetables (they must think I’m such a hippie), so this will be quite the treat.

This is a standard recipe for gingerbread cookies that I picked up from Martha Stewart. It yields a beautiful dough that’s perfectly pliable– great for cookie cutters. Speaking of cookie cutters, have a look at these gingerbread men. Ha!

Without further adieu, cookies… and now I shall proceed to sleep after a long day of grading and listening to the Home Alone soundtrack.

lv, molly

Until I have the ninja gingerbread man cookie cutter, this will have to suffice.

Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen

2 C all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 c packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 C unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
Decorating sugar or sprinkles (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in molasses and egg. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients; mix just until a dough forms. Place dough on floured plastic wrap; pat into an 8-inch square. Wrap well; chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours.

Divide dough in half. Working with one half at a time (rewrap and refrigerate other half), place dough on floured parchment or waxed paper; roll out 1/8 inch thick, turning, lifting, and flouring dough (and rolling pin) as needed. Freeze dough (on paper) until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degress.

Loosen dough from paper. Cut out shapes, and transfer to baking sheets. Decorate with sugar or sprinkles, as desired.

Bake until firm and edges just begin to darken, 10 to 18 minutes, depending on size. Cool completely on baking sheets.

All ready to take to school!

Home Alone soundtrack…. YESSS!!!