Mexican Wedding Cakes

These are a cookie that we make every year at Christmas time for as long as I can remember. It is similar to many of the “tea cake” cookies, but I’m not sure where my mother got the recipe.

Makes 36 cookies

1 cup butter
green food coloring
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts, ground or chopped very finely
powdered sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 325℉.
  2. Beat butter until fluffy.
  3. Add food coloring.
  4. Mix in remaining ingredients until well combined. The dough will be a little dry.
  5. Roll in 1/2 – 3/4″ balls (they will expand when baked). Place on ungreased baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom.
  7. Remove from pan and roll in powdered sugar while hot.
  • You can omit the food coloring if you like, or use a different color, but we always color them green.
  • We usually use walnuts or pecans, but you can use any nuts you like. 

Bisenchitos / Biscochitos

This is New Mexico’s traditional cookie. My mother made them for as long as I can remember. She never said where she got the recipe. We always called them “bisenchitos”, but that is probably due to misinterpretation from “biscochitos” by the person who wrote this recipe.  I keep trying to change, but I tend to fall back to “bisenchitos” when I am not thinking about it and then have to correct myself. Whatever you want to call them, they are delicious and one of my favorite cookies.

1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp anise extract
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
brandy
cinnamon sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Cream shortening and sugar.
  3. Beat in egg and extract.
  4. Mix flour, baking powder and salt.pinwheel_folding
  5. Blend into sugar mixture.
  6. Add enough brandy to hold the dough together.  If it seems dry, add more brandy.  If it crumbles when you roll it out, add more brandy.
  7. Roll out about 1/8″ thick to make pinwheels.
  8. For pinwheels, cut dough into squares. Cut from each corner halfway to center of square. Lift alternating corners and press gently into the center.
  9. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  10. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • This does not need expensive brandy, but avoid flavored varieties such as apricot brandy.
  • I used to make these with lard, but I have adjusted the recipe to use shortening instead.  It tends to need more brandy, but we’ll suffer through. 
  • We always made them into pinwheels, but you can cut them into simple shapes if you prefer.   Roll out 1/4″ thick to cut into shapes. This will make a softer cookie. 

Vi’s Fruitcake

This recipe was developed by my friend Judy Begley Trimarchi’s mother, Violet (Vi) Begley.

Don’t be afraid!

Yes, it’s fruitcake, but not the kind of fruitcake that your parents warned you about. This cake is full of raisins, dates, and walnuts with some candied fruit, held together by a moist spice cake flavored with molasses, apple jelly, coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves.

Try it, you will be surprised! When I was first offered a piece of this fruitcake, I was reluctant to try it, but I quickly changed my mind and ate two more pieces.

Servings: 48 cupcakes

1 cup shortening
2 cups brown sugar
6 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
¾ cup brewed coffee
½ cup apple jelly
½ cup molasses
1 lb raisins
½ lb currants
½ lb dates, chopped
½ lb nuts, coarsely chopped
1 lb candied fruit

  1. Cream shortening and sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs.
  3. In another bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & spices.
  4. Stir in flour mixture alternately with liquids (coffee, jelly & molasses) until well combined.
  5. Stir in fruit and nuts.
  6. Pour into greased and floured loaf pans or lined cupcake pans, filling almost to the top.
  7. Bake at 300℉ until a toothpick comes out clean. Cupcakes about 25 minutes, 2″x 4″ loaf about 45-50 minutes.
  • You can substitute other dried fruit for any of those listed. This year we used dried pineapple & dried cherries instead of the candied fruit – yum!
  • You can substitute another mild-flavored jelly if you prefer.

Starlight Cakes

This recipe is from my friend Patty Davis Grigsby’s mother, Virginia Davis.  She made these beautiful, delicious cakes every Christmas.

Cake

3/4 cup shortening
1  1/2 cups sugar
1  1/2 tsp vanilla
2  1/4  cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
5 egg whites

  1. Heat oven to 375.
  2. Cream shortening and sugar.  Beat in vanilla.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Beat for 2 minutes after the last addition.
  5. Beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold into batter.
  6. Pour into a well-greased and floured 9×12 pan or in 2 1/2 to 3 inch individual cake molds.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until center springs back when touched.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Icing

6 cups powdered sugar
1/3-1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

  1. Add milk to powdered sugar until icing is a pouring consistency.
  2. Add vanilla and salt.
  3. Spoon over cakes until well coated.
  4. Decorate with silver metallic candy balls (dragées).
  • Virginia had cute star-shaped molds that she used for these cakes, making them especially beautiful.

Hot Buttered Rum

from Dennis via Judy Begley Trimarchi

2 cups light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup salted butter
pinch of salt
3 sticks cinnamon
6-8 whole cloves
1/2 whole nutmeg
8 cups water
2 cups light rum
whipped cream
grated nutmeg

Directions

  1. Combine sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, cloves, whole nutmeg and water in a crockpot.
  2. Cook on low for 5 hours.
  3. Add rum.
  4. Serve in warm mugs with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Judy says, “When I first moved to Virginia from Arizona in 1981, I was fresh out of college.  My boss, Dennis, must have answered 10,000 questions as I learned how to apply the vague book learning of the university to the practical, specific needs of the lab where I was hired.  He may have wanted to run for cover when he saw me coming, but he never did.  One Christmas, he and his wife hosted our entire crew for a wonderful party that included this fantastic Hot Buttered Rum.  Dennis was taken from us by cancer over 10 years ago, but I will never lose everything he taught me.  Enjoy this fabulous beverage when you entertain your friends and family!”