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Mexican wedding cookies from Alon's Bakery

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Sometimes the simplest recipes are the easiest to screw up. Mexican wedding cookies - buttery, shortbread-like confections - are a perfect example. If you add too much fat or too many nuts (pecans are traditional), the cookies fall apart. Too much powdered sugar and the eater finds himself inhaling and then coughing clouds of the dusty sweet stuff. It's a funny sight, but less than pleasant. Given the ease with which they can be botched, it's no surprise that most specimens are inferior. Alon's Bakery, however, has the recipe down pat. Really, these are the best Mexican wedding cookies I've found in Atlanta or anywhere else for that matter - outside of my own kitchen, of course.

Wedding cookies (or cakes) are traditional celebratory fare in countries all over the world - Italy, Russia, Greece, Cuba - and each country has its own variation. In Mexico, the cookies we know today purportedly descend from Polvorones, which were introduced to Spain by the Arabs. While the Spaniards used lard in their version, most Mexicans - my family included - stay true to the Arab preparation made with butter, although you'll occasionally find some shortening-based cookies.

Alon's wedding cookies are made in the traditional manner. Each crumbly cookie is loaded with tiny bits of pecans and just enough powdered sugar. They may look ordinary, but each little cookie packs a wallop. Even though they're essentially dense pieces of shortbread studded with nuts, they still manage to be light and airy. Alon's uses the right amount of butter so the cookies are just crumbly enough without losing their integrity. And the bakery doesn't use too much sugar to coat the finished cookies, so there's little risk of suffering through the aforementioned powdered-sugar attack. These cookies have balance - something that's key with any baked good.

Just how much do I love these cookies? My husband and I handed them out as favors to our wedding guests, many of whom had traveled from Mexico to attend. It's been a year since our nuptials and I still get questions and raves about those "amazing cookies." Need more proof that these are the real deal? My grandmother, who lives in Mexico City, always requests that I pick some up whenever she visits the States.

Alon's Mexican wedding cookies are sold for $13.49/lb., which yields about 25 to 30 cookies. You can buy them at either of the bakery's locations (1394 N. Highland Ave., 404-872-6000; 4505 Ashford Dunwoody Road, 678-397-1781) or order them through Alon's automated catering site at www.alons.com.

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