Mexican Tea Cakes

Mexican Tea Cakes
Claire Cohen
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 23 mins
Servings: 48 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
73 Calories
6g Fat
5g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 48
Amount per serving
Calories 73
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 30mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 0g
Calcium 7mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

These traditional cookies are not only popular at Christmastime, but are also commonly found at a variety of celebrations such as weddings, christenings, and bridal showers. They are also known as sand cookies, butternut cookies, and Mexican wedding cakes. These tender little cookies don't change their shape while they are baking. They are really a shortbread cookie but baked in the shape of a drop cookie. They are mild and tender and crumbly and buttery, just perfect for any taste.

Try forming some of the dough around unwrapped chocolate kisses, maraschino cherries, other types of candy, such as candy bars cut into small cubes, or nuts to form a surprise center. The first coating of powdered sugar on the cookies melts to form a thin icing, which is sealed in by the next coating. So make sure to coat them twice!


  • 1 cup butter (softened; no substitutes)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1 cup pecans (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar to coat cookies (more or less)

Steps to Make It

  1. Cream the butter with the powdered sugar until well blended and smooth. Beat in the vanilla, then add the flour and salt.

  2. Mix just until combined, but don't mix too much. You don't want too much gluten to form; the cookies should be tender. Add the nuts, if using.

  3. Cover the dough and chill it for several hours in the refrigerator. We like to make this dough the day before we bake them.

  4. When you're ready to bake, let the dough stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. The dough will be really hard from being chilled. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

  5. Form the dough into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. The dough will not spread at all during baking, so you can place them pretty close together. We can usually get all of the cookies onto just two cookie sheets.

  6. Bake the cookies for 8 to 12 minutes. The cookies should not brown on the top or just be very pale gold on the tops, but be lightly golden on the bottom.

  7. Immediately take the cookies, one at a time, off the hot cookie sheet and drop into a shallow bowl full of powdered sugar, roll, and place on a rack to cool. When the cookies are cool, roll them again in powdered sugar to coat.

  8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week, if they last that long!