Wedding Cookies

altWeddings are full of traditions - religious, cultural, family, and even national traditions. These customs include clothing for bride and groom, what is said at the wedding, and, of course, the food for the wedding feast. The most common food traditions for weddings include sweets. The Ancient Romans, though they were without sugar, made a cake sweetened with honey as part of the marriage ceremony. While a wedding today is rarely without a cake as a centerpiece, sometimes other sweets are desirable as well.

The very basic ingredients for wedding cookies are butter, flour, and sugar. Such ingredients were considered luxuries in years past, so would be a fancy accompaniment for the wedding feast. Different cultures have accented those three basics with eggs, nuts, flavoring, and/or a leavening agent. Some confections are considered appropriate for weddings because of the symbolism involved - nuts to represent the "bumps in the road" for the couple's life together, tied in a knot to represent the marriage itself, white sugar on top for the purity of the wedding, and so on. While the following cookies recipes aren't fancy by today's cookie standards, they are simple and symbolic, a nice element of a wedding shower menu or even at the wedding cake table.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

These cookies are very familiar treats - also known as Russian Tea Cakes. When you add some orange juice, an egg yolk, and stud them with cloves, they become Greek wedding cookies.

alt 1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup pecans or almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup powdered sugar for coating
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat butter and powdered sugar in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add salt and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour and mix.
4. Stir in pecans.
5. Shape dough into small balls and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Transfer cookies to cooling rack.
7. To coat cooled cookies, combine powdered sugar with cinnamon (optional) in a ziploc bag and toss a few cookies at a time. OR put powdered sugar in a fine mesh strainer and shake or tap over cookies.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

altItalian Wedding Cookies

Now we add eggs, a little cream cheese and baking powder, then take away the nuts.

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 cups flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar; mix well.
3. Mix in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and almond extracts.
4. Add milk.
5. Slowly mix in baking powder and flour.
6. Chill dough for about 15 minutes.
7. Shape dough into a rope, then tie in a knot/pretzel. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
9. Drizzle with icing. (1 cup powdered sugar, 2-3 Tablespoons milk, 1/4 teaspoon almond extract)

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.


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