Mexican Cookies

Traditionally, these cookies are for Christmas, but don’t worry. I’m not making them that far ahead of time. This batch is for graduation festivities, particularly, our Teacher Appreciation fiesta. I signed up to make “Mexican Cookies” (because brownies were taken) and decided to go with these.

Mexican Christmas Cookies

The original recipe is based on one from the Houston Junior League’s Stop and Smell the Rosemary: Recipes and Traditions to Remember (excellent book!!!), but I’ve made a few modifications. The coating is kind of interesting because it’s made with the usual sugar and cinnamon as well as grated chocolate, which melts onto the shell of the cookie and adds some color, but not a whole lot of chocolate flavor.  The flavor is inside the cookie.  The combo of cinnamon and vanilla goes a long way, and that hefty proportion of butter does its job for the texture.  These aren’t quite as dusty as polverones, but they are ethereally light and delicious, nonetheless.  While not exactly flashy in appearance, they will impress after one bite.  And they’re just perfect for an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee.

That being said, if I can find the time today, I want to run to the store and buy brownie ingredients.  I might try to make some Mexican brownies anyway.  What are they gonna do about it if I show up with extra brownies, eh?

Mexican Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cookies rolled in sugar, chocolate and cinnamon
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or Mexican vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups to 1 3/4 cups (7.9 ounces) all-purpose flour (see note)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy. Beat in the salt, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and cinnamon, scraping the sides of the bowl often, until mixture is smooth. Beat in the baking powder. When it’s thoroughly mixed in, add the flour and stir by hand until it’s well mixed. The batter should be soft, yet sturdy enough to shape.
  2. With a level tablespoon, scoop up the dough and shape into 24 balls. Place the balls on a plate and chill for 2 hours or if baking ahead, chill until very firm, then put in a heavy duty zipper bag and freeze.
  3. When ready to bake, bring the dough balls to room temperature.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  5. Arrange the dough balls, spacing about 2 1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets, then press the balls into 2 inch rounds. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the sugar, chocolate and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  7. Remove warm cookies from baking sheets and let cool for about 3 minutes on a wire rack set over a sheet of foil. Spoon coating over the cookies, letting it fall down onto the foil. Scoop fallen coating off the foil and use it to coat the bottom of the cookies. Let cool completely before serving.
To grate the chocolate, I used a cold bar of semisweet chocolate and a Microplane zester. If you don't have a scale, start with 1 1/2 cups of flour and if the dough is too sticky, add another 1/4 cup. If you have a scale you should be fine weighing out 1 3/4 cup (7.9 ounces) I had leftover sugar mixture, so I cut the original amount in half.


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  1. says

    I like the idea of the grated chocolate with the sugar/cinnamon. And I’d totally go for a cookie AND a brownie. 😉

  2. Nancy says

    I’m with you! Just because someone beat me to the sign-up sheet never stopped me from bringing my home-baked goodies. Not to be snobby, but in my experience, the “other” stuff usually comes straight from the grocery store, still in its plastic clamshell. (Not that I haven’t done my share of last-minute grocery store drive-bys.)

  3. says

    I wonder what makes them Mexican? To they taste like shortbread cookies? They look yummy! And no, I have not made the yellow cake yet, but I am forwarding your recipe to a friend of mine who has been actively searching!

  4. says

    I’m intrigued by your description of the texture of this cookie! They sound unique in a wonderful way.
    I know your question is rhetorical regarding the browines but of course if you make and take them, they will eat them. 🙂

  5. Bert says

    The above correct. Here is a real one:
    1 1/2 cups lard (1 pound box)
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    3 eggs
    3 teaspoons anise seed
    6 cups flour
    3 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup sweet white wine (plus a 1/4 extra if needed)

    1/2 cup sugar + 1 Tablespoon cinnamon

    Cream together the lard and 1 1/2 cups sugar. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and anise, add to the lard/sugar mixture. Mix well.

    In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this dry mixture to the wet mixture. Knead well with your hands until dough sticks together, it should be slightly sticky but able to form a firm dough ball. If the dough is too dry add more wine a teaspoon at a time, if it is too sticky add more flour a teaspoon at a time.

    Divide the dough into three large balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight so the dough becomes firm and manegable.

    The next day preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough with a liberally floured rolling pin on a liberally floured surface 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Dip one side of each cookie into cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on cookie sheet sugar side up. To ensure all cookies bake evenly, bake each shape cookie in batches of alike shapes and sizes. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the bottom of the cookies are brown and the tops are golden.

    Remove from oven, and immediately dip in cinnamon-sugar again, dipping them while they are warm is key to getting the cinnamon sugar to stick. Store in a cool-dry place or freeze for up to six months.

  6. Betty Webb says

    What is the purpose of sticking in refrigerator for two hours and then take out til room temperature to bake. Doesn’t make any sense to me. Why not just bake them after putting all ingredients together.

  7. says

    In most cases, refrigerating makes the dough firmer and easier to shape into balls. If you used a lot of flour and have a dry dough, you might not have to. Also, refrigerating the dough can change the texture of the baked cookie.

  8. diane says

    quick question. I’ve already made the batter and I got the two dozen balls in my freezer… Do I have to wait till they’re done baking to add the cinnamon sugar chocolate mix? could I roll the dough balls in the mixture and then bake them??? just curious

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