I was five years old, and it was recess. My evergreen uniform blazer just got a fine dusting of powdered sugar and crumbs, but I was too absorbed in eating to bother with the mess.
It was love at first bite with the polvorones, made by the Mexican baking company Marinela. The tender shortbread cakes crumbled with no resistance; a feathery coating of confectioners' sugar clung to my lips and fingers.
Unfortunately, my family and I were only in Mexico for a few years, and I never saw the polvorones again until years later at a bodega in New York. And by then, it was bitter disappointment—the product had been altered beyond recognition.
But chin up, this isn't a cookie telenovela with a weepy ending. In 2005 Bon Appétit published a recipe for Mexican wedding cakes. The photo reminded me of my school days, and without too many expectations I made them. The cookies brought back the uniform, the cold flagstone courtyard, the recess bell.
I've made the original recipe for Mexican wedding cakes scads of times. Butter, confectioners' sugar, flour, and toasted ground pecans are beaten together to form a dough which is briefly chilled. The dough is shaped into balls and baked, and finally, the cookies are dusted with cinnamon and confectioners' sugar. Sublime as these cookies are, I'd baked enough batches to be ready for a change.
The alterations I made to the recipe are minor, but add a fresh and sophisticated twist. In lieu of pecans, fragrant almonds, and instead of warm, spicy cinnamon, the bright bite of freshly grated lemon zest. There's nothing wrong with topping these with confectioners' sugar but in this edition, the rich, sandy crumb of these addictive cookies is more appropriately hidden under a veil of sharp lemon glaze.