From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Pan de polvo, also known as polvorones, or Mexican wedding cookies, are sinfully delicious. This version is unusual. Last spring, having, of course, finished reading The Economist and Atlantic Monthly, I was paging through InStyle magazine and came across Eva Longoria's recipe for the cookies. It was quite unlike any I'd seen before and I made a mental note to give them a try. I, of course, forgot all about it until Anna Ginsberg of Pillsbury Bake-Off fame featured them in her wonderful blog Cookie Madness. I decided I had to give them a try. I did. I can report they are lovely cookies, and while they won't replace my personal favorite, the desperate housewife's recipe is well worth a try - especially for those of you who enjoy old favorites in new guises. These shortbread cookies originally came from Spain and this version infuses the cookies with the flavors of cinnamon and anise. The cookies are traditionally served at Christmas and weddings, but because they are easy to do, they are favorites of young bakers. Both my girls loved to make them and would practice on their friends and boyfriends. I loved to have them make them for Christmas because these elegant cookies, also known as Russian Tea Cakes, were crowd pleasers. If you have some time and are looking for something new to fill your cookie tray, consider trying this version of Mexican wedding cookies.
Pan de Polvo...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
2 whole sticks Mexican cinnamon
1 teaspoon anise seed
1-1/2 cups water
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup butter-flavored shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cinnamon sticks, anise seed and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer gently for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, strain, and set liquid aside to cool.
2) In a separate bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer,) cream butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy. Once creamed thoroughly, add almond extract. Meanwhile combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add ¼ cup cinnamon water to creamed mixture, adding slowly until all liquid is absorbed. Add flour mixture and blend until dough is uniform. Chill dough for 15 minutes or until it can be handled easily. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges of the cookie begin to brown slightly.
3) While cookies are baking, mix cinnamon and sugar and set aside. When done, remove cookies from the oven and, while cookies are still warm, gently roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Allow to cool before serving. Yield: 3 dozen cookies.