Total time: 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes chilling
Servings: About 36
Note: To toast nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Use pecans, walnuts, peeled hazelnuts, almonds or a combination. The cookies also are good with pine nuts, but they do not need toasting.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into chunks
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted, plus 1 to 1 1/2 cups for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour, sifted
1 cup very finely chopped toasted nuts
1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
2. Combine the butter, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, salt and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Beat in the flour and nuts. Chill the dough 30 to 60 minutes.
3. Shape the dough into balls about 1 inch across (use a 1-inch scoop, if you have one, to make the balls consistent in size). Arrange them on ungreased baking sheets about one-half inch apart. Bake on the center rack of the oven until the cookies are set on top and deep golden on bottom, 18 to 20 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking.
4. Transfer the cookies to a rack and immediately dust heavily with powdered sugar. Cool completely, then turn out into a large bowl and thickly dust with the remaining powdered sugar, coating all sides. Store airtight.
Each cookie: 102 calories; 17 mg. sodium; 14 mg. cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.36 gram fiber.
Almond-lime wedding cakes: Omit the vanilla and add the grated zest of 2 large limes and a few dashes of bitters while creaming the butter. Use sliced almonds, lightly toasted and finely crushed, for the nuts. Proceed as directed.
Cocoa wedding cakes: Place 3 tablespoons of top-quality Dutch-process cocoa powder in the bowl before creaming the butter and powdered sugar. Increase the vanilla to 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cut the flour by 2 tablespoons. Increase the finely chopped nuts to 1 1/4 cups. Proceed as directed.