Today my baking-happy lawyer friend Matt was sweet enough to bring me some homemade Mexican tea cakes. I had never heard of these before, but they looked familiar. As soon as I bit into them, I realized what they reminded me of. They were practically an exact replica of the Italian wedding cookies we used to make at Spiaggia in Chicago. A petite woman used to make them fresh every morning. I can still remember sneaking one or two from her before she wrapped them up tight. The way they crumbled as soon as they hit the palate made them irresistable. I had to force myself not to look at them during service, but occasionally, their siren call would have me sneaking one more as I plated the cookie plates. Basically, they were nutty shortbread rounds coated in confectioners sugar. They also go by Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, and sundry other names. Point is, whatever they’re called, it’s the texture that counts. Be sure to coat them in confectioners sugar while they’re still warm from the oven, and do it a couple of times so they get a beautiful snowy coating without clumping. I remember the cook from Spiaggia saying that the key is not to compress the dough, otherwise it loses its airy, crumbly texture.
A Cookie by Any Other Name
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