While cake may be the dessert of choice for many American weddings, there are numerous ethnic communities who wouldn’t dream of planning a wedding feast without a tantalizing array of traditional wedding cookies to delight and feed their guests. Butter, flour, and sugar are combined with special spices, chopped nuts, and other ingredients to create platters of delicate shapes and creamy fillings perfect for hungry celebrants to nibble on.
From Pennsylvania to Italy
Italian weddings feature many types of sweet bites including cannoli and the beautiful pizzelles. Pizzelles are a round waffle cookie made in a pizzelle iron which is like a small waffle iron. The iron imprints the waffle with a pretty snowflake pattern and creates a crispy exterior with a chewy interior. Traditional flavorings include lemon, vanilla, and anise. The pizzelles can be eaten plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or sandwiched with the creamy ricotta filling used for cannoli.
The Danes make a similar cookie called krumkake. It is also made in a patterned iron but the dough is flavored with cardamom, the cookies are thinner and crispier than pizzelle, and the pattern is botanical. They can be served flat or shaped around a cone mold while still warm, cooled, then filled with cream.
Italian weddings can also feature pignoli (pine nut cookies), pesche (peach cookies), and an array of biscotti.
Pennsylvania weddings are famous for massive cookie tables featuring such old fashioned favorites as jam thumbprints, chocolate crinkle cookies, and the lovely ladylocks, also known as clothespin cookies from when they were molded around wooden clothespins during the Depression years. Ladylocks are made of strips of dough wrapped around and around a short length of wood or a clothespin. Once the ladylocks are baked the wood is removed while they’re still warm so they don’t get stuck when the dough cools and shrinks. Once cooled, the pastry-like tubes are filled with cream, marshmallow crème, or a buttery icing.
The sweet table at a Polish, Croatian, or Czech wedding might hold kolaczki, little parcels made of cream cheese dough stuffed with apricot, raspberry, prune, and sweet cheese fillings.
Mexican Wedding Cookies are seen in many cultures such as Italian, German, and Russian, and go by several names including Snowballs. They may look like mere lumps covered in a thick layer of powdered sugar, but under that snowy mantle is a melt-in-your-mouth confection, delicate, buttery cookies with an airy texture and the flavor of a nutty shortbread.
If you want to bring a personal flair to your wedding reception, consider a cookie table alongside that gorgeous wedding cake!
Mexican Wedding Cookies
(Makes approximately 48 cookies)
- 1 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups sifted white flour
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- confectioner’s sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In large bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla.
In medium bowl, stir flour and salt together. Add by spoonful to butter mixture, stirring well after each addition until it is all incorporated. Add chopped nuts and stir until well mixed.
If dough seems too soft to form into balls, chill for 10 minutes or so, then remove from fridge, roll dough into 1-inch balls and place onto baking sheets lined with baking paper.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until cookies begin to brown. Cool slightly until able to handle, then roll in powdered sugar until evenly coated and set on wire rack to cool completely. If necessary, roll them in sugar again once they’re cooled.
from Krista Bjorn
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
- 6 tablespoons water
Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Stir in cardamom and flour, mixing well.
Add water until batter is the consistency of pancake batter.
Lightly grease both sides of krumkake iron with cooking spray or melted butter.
Heat iron over medium to medium-high burner. (Any hotter and iron will scorch.) Ladle generous tablespoon of batter onto center of the iron. Close iron, squeezing handles together gently to spread batter, but not so tightly that batter leaks out.
Cook for 30 seconds, flip iron over, and cook an additional 30 seconds. Flip iron back to initial position, open, and remove and transfer cookie to cooling rack.
You can also immediately roll cookie around a krumkake cone or the handle of a wood spoon. Cool slightly then slip off and allow to cool on rack.
Store in tightly sealed container in order to retain crispness. Serve alone or filled with whipped cream and fruit.
Photo Credits: Steve Snodgrass, kinggrl, cyclonebill, Biskuit, and author.