Monday, December 15, 2008

Eat Christmas Cookies 2 - Mexican Wine Cookies


I have mentioned Mexican Wine Cookies before, when this was still supposed to be a knitting blog, but I have never posted about them or published the recipe. I make them every Christmas, so when Foodblogga announced her second annual Eat Christmas Cookies event I decided that these are the cookies I would feature.

My father found the recipe in the Dallas Morning News back when I was in high school and suggested we make them together. To this day I do not know why he chose that particular recipe. He was more of a cook than a baker, and neither of my parents drank much alcohol, but I didn't really question it at the time. It usually fell to me to keep my Dad company when he was in the kitchen so I started pulling out the ingredients and the mixing bowl, and we got down to business.

There is a high flour to butter, sugar and liquid ratio in this batter, so you have to have a pretty strong arm to mix it up. You add four cups of flour in two 2-cup batches. The first batch goes well, but the second batch is what takes the muscle. Over the years I have realized that if I am more patient and just continue to work the dough into the flour, it goes much more smoothly.

According to the recipe, you were supposed to mix up the batter, leave it in the refrigerator for at least an hour, and then push it through a cookie press. But the batter was so thick and stiff that it was almost impossible to push it through the press. As I have written before, I thought my father was going to have a heart attack as he pushed and strained to get the batter through. He would grunt and turn red, and finally churn out a cookie, and then we would laugh hysterically while he got his breath and strength back to do the next one.

Why it didn't occur to us to take the dough out of the cookie press and just roll the cookies out, I will never know. It took hours to finish those cookies, Dad muttering "never again" under his breath the whole time.

But they were good. Really good. They look like plain butter cookies but their texture is more like shortbread. The sherry adds a barely perceptible nutty warmth that permeates throughout every mouthful. So I hung onto the recipe, even though I was pretty sure I would never be making them again.

After I left home, I ran across it in my recipe box one year when I was making my holiday baking plans. I knew there was no way it would work with the cookie press, but I didn't see why I couldn't just roll the dough into balls and press them down with a fork, like peanut butter cookies. So I made them that way, and they worked beautifully.

And after I had been making them for a few years, my sister gave me this beautiful set of clay cookie press molds. They were the perfect tool to make the cookies more distinctive, and added a nice festive touch as well.

The cookies don't look like much. Whenever I take them somewhere new, they languish on the table while people are busy devouring the brownies, toll house cookies, gingerbread, and other more traditional Christmas goodies. But once the chocolate and cheesecake is gone and people start to nibble on them, they discover just how good they are. And by the next year, they are asking for them.
Home Cookin Chapter: Cookies

MEXICAN WINE COOKIES
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp salt
4 cup sifted flour
1/4 cup sweet sherry

Cream butter with sugar. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Blend in salt and 2 c. flour. Stir in sherry.

Add remaining 2 c. flour; mix well. Divide into four pieces and roll into logs. Chill for at least one hour.*
Roll into walnut-size balls and use cookie press or the tines of a fork to flatten out.

Bake 350 deg. for 8-10 mins. Makes 8 dozen cookies.

*Rolls can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for three months. Wrap them individually so you can cook as few or as many as you would like.

Adapted from a recipe found in the Food Section of
The Dallas Morning News.

Exported from Home Cookin 5.6 (www.mountain-software.com)

5 comments:

Susan from Food Blogga said...

What an interesting story for an interesting cookie. I have never had a cookie made with sherry before, but I'd like to!

misreall said...

I remember how wonderful those are. I might have to make some this year, great baker that I am.

misreall said...

Yay! It let me comment!

dejamo said...

Yay! You can finally comment! Feel free to comment often ;)

You should give these a try. For all the elbow grease required, there aren't that many ingredients so it's fairly simple.

I'm sorry we're not going to be able to get together before January, but I will see you then!

Susan, there's something about the sherry that makes a little bit go a long way. I've substituted other liqueurs and nothing else comes close. You really should try it.

michelle @ TNS said...

i'm intrigued. booze in a cookie! i've gotta try it. (and cute story)

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