A few years ago at Thanksgiving dinner, my sister and I were shocked and horrified: my mother did something weird to the mashed potatoes.
“Mom! What is IN these? Why are there… flecks?!?!”
“It’s ‘garden veggie’ cream cheese. I thought I would try something different.”
“NO! NEVER MAKE THESE AGAIN! WE WANT YOUR MASHED POTATOES!
Our mutiny shamed her into making regular potatoes forevermore. Thank goodness.
Are you a traditionalist when it comes to traditions? My ultra-liberal, modern and progressive husband is. It often catches me off-guard. While flexible in many areas, he will sometimes pull out a “…but that’s the way it it” when I don’t expect it.
Enter Christmas cookies.
I saw a recipe the other day for a modified Mexican wedding cookie that sounded good – flavors we both like, and a spin on my spouse’s very favorite Christmas cookie. When I offered to make some, the conversation went something like this:
Me: Hey, I saw a recipe for lemon-coconut Mexican wedding cookies! Would you eat those?
Him: What cookies?
Me: Yeah. Mexican wedding cookies. Your favorites. But with lemon and coconut. I mean, I could go get more pecans and make the regular kind, but I have all the stuff for these.
Him: What’s a Mexican wedding cookie?
Me: You love them. Your mom makes them.
Him: *blank stare*
Me: Russian tea cakes?
Him: Oh! That’s not a Mexican wedding cookie.
Me: They have multiple names, honey.
Him: Yeah. Russian tea cakes.
Me: Right. Or Mexican wedding cookies.
Him: *blank stare*
Me: …Anyway, would you eat the lemon coconut version?
Him: Sure, I could try Mexican wedding cookies.
Me: *sigh* Lemon coconut snowballs it is.
The end-product, whatever you want to call it, was approved. While it has not supplanted his beloved Russian tea cakes, he said he likes them. Crisis averted. And next time I’m at the store, I’m getting more pecans to make the traditional recipe.
The cookies are super easy to mix up. I did have some problems with the recipe though. First it says: “Prep: 25 min.; Cook: 20 min. per batch; Other: 35 min.” Other? The dough has to chill for half an hour before baking, then the cookies have to cool completely between sugar coatings. Total waiting time was almost an hour! Also, it calls for coconut extract. Who has coconut extract? I used lemon extract instead. The coconut flavor wasn’t very pronounced, so I’m sure they’re even better with coconut extract, but I’m not driving to the store just for that! If I had coconut rum I would probably have tossed that in, instead. Someone try it and tell me if it works.
Mmmm. Nice and lemony. You can see the zesty yellow bits and the toasty crunchy coconut pieces. Not for long! Those cookies are taking a dip. Say hello to the sugar pool.
One dip isn’t enough, though. They’re still a little patchy in spots. Once more, and we’re nice and fluffy white.
Lemon Coconut Snowballs
Adapted from MyRecipes
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract (I used lemon extract because I had some)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1½ cups powdered sugar (for rolling)
1.) Spread coconut evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside.
2.) Beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually add ½ cup of powdered sugar and extracts, beating until well mixed. Add flour, salt, and zest, and beat until combined. Stir in coconut. Cover dough and chill for 30 minutes.
3.) Once dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Roll dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter and place 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Cookies should be golden on the bottom but still pale on top.
4.) Let cookies cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Place 1½ cups of powdered sugar (I sifted mine since it had some lumps) in a bowl. Roll warm cookies generously in powdered sugar and return to cooling racks. When cookies are completely cool, roll them in powdered sugar again, coating completely.