Not I. If all the stars were perfectly aligned, we could talk my mom into buying a pink bag of Danish Wedding Cookies at the grocery store before heading out in the motor home for Colorado. And there my brother and I would sit in the back of the motor home with powder sugar coated fingertips digging into the bag until we had wiped it out completely. Bliss. Now, as I understand things, the Keebler version of “Danish” Wedding cookies are about as “Danish” as enchiladas. Who knows? I guess it is just a marketing thing. They are, as far as I can tell, re-branded Mexican Wedding Cookies. But it doesn’t really matter what you call them, as long as you get to eat them. But, my entire experience with (Mexican or Danish) Wedding Cookies is confined to an occasional Keebler binge.
My memory loves that little cookie. I love that little cookie. And this week I set out to re-create it in my own way. Let’s be clear. I made these HUGE. The next time I make them I will probably make them a little smaller and this is why: You need to be able to pop a confectioners’ sugar covered cookie into your mouth in one bite or you end up with confectioners’ sugar everywhere. So if you want to roll them into small balls in the more traditional manner, do so. Roll them, set them on a cookie sheet, squash them lightly with the palm of your hand and then go to the chilling step. Or, do as I did and roll them into a little log and then chill and slice them. Both taste the same. The only question is one of tradition and neatness.
Oh, and I don’t know where I got the notion to put mini chocolate chips in this cookie. As far as I can tell, that is just a little bird of inspiration that flew into my world. Leave them out if you are on a more traditional cookie quest. Same goes for the vanilla bean. And, now that I’m mentioning how non-traditional this cookie is, most Mexican Wedding Cookies don’t put as much sugar in the dough either. Maybe I should call these something else.
⅔ cup minced pecans, toasted for 3 to 4 minutes
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
1-½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup (at least) of confectioners’ sugar for coating the finished cookies
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop the pecans finely, or whiz them up in the food processor until they are the size of large crumbs. You don’t want them to be powdered completely. Place the pecan crumbs on a cookie sheet covered with foil and place in a 375 degree oven for 3 to 4 minutes. After 3 minutes, you need to check the crumbs every 15 seconds or so. You want them to be just toasted, not browned or burnt. The crumbs go from perfect to ruined in about 15 seconds, so this is not a time to step away from the oven. Remove the crumbs from the oven and allow them to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is getting fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat for an additional minute. Add the vanilla extract and the seeds from the vanilla bean and mix. Scrape the edges of the bowl to make sure that the vanilla is getting incorporated fully. Add the minced pecans and mix. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and continue to mix on low until they are evenly distributed.
Either roll the dough into little balls and chill, or place all of the dough onto a piece of parchment and roll it into a log and chill. I used a trick I have seen a lot in Cooks Illustrated. I cut a paper towel tube down the whole length of it and inserted the dough log into the tube. It did keep the cookies from having a flat side after they chill. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about one hour.
After the cookie dough has chilled, cut slices off of the log with a very sharp knife (otherwise the dough can crumble). I cut ½” slices. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet or silicone baking sheet for approximately 15 minutes at 350 degrees. If you make smaller cookies, you will need to adjust your cooking time downward accordingly.
Remove the cookies to a rack to cool for approximately 5 minutes before coating them with sugar.
Dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar on the bottoms and tops and put them back onto the rack to cool completely. When they are completely cool, sugar the tops of the cookies again. I recommend using a tiny sifter, a mesh strainer, or a shaker for this.
Note: The crumb of this cookie is a bit more tender than that of the Keebler version if I remember correctly. Using confectioners’ sugar in the dough causes it to have a silky texture which I believe is due to the corn starch in the sugar. It is an interesting texture distinction.