My Favorite Christmas Cookies (Pecan Puffs)

I am a stickler for holiday traditions, food and otherwise. I have a sinking feeling that sometimes I can be downright annoying about it (remember the pumpkin pie incident?), but really I just do it because I love it. One of the Christmastime food traditions I’ve latched onto is the need for Pecan Puffs, also known as “Mexican Wedding Cakes.” I love the way these little snowy balls instantly shatter into silky crumbs in my mouth. I love the not-too-sweet pecan way they taste. I love the way the powdered sugar sticks to my fingers.

Yesterday, midst cold city rain, I set up shop in my kitchen and put Marta and Hillary to work rolling balls of dough with me (while watching Elf of course). We rolled our way through a double recipe of pecan puff dough, and now I have enough of these perfect little cookies to last until Christmas (or at least until we go home next week and my mama makes more). I tried and failed to convert this recipe to be gluten-free, so until next year we’re just going to have to stick with this original recipe from the Joy of Cooking.

Pecan Puffs

1 cup butter
4 Tbs. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups pecans, finely ground
2 cups cake flour
about 1 cup confectioners sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 300?F.
Cream the butter and the sugar until soft, then stir in the vanilla.
Stir the pecans and the flour into the butter mixture.
Roll the dough into 2 tsp size balls and place evenly on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake until the cookies are just barely starting to brown, about 20 minutes.
While still hot, roll each cookie in the confectioners sugar then let cool completely on a cooling rack.
I like to dust all the finished cookies with a bit of extra confectioners sugar through a fine sieve for a smooth finish.