International Cooking is International Learning

Filed in Gather Food Essential by on June 2, 2008 0 Comments

One of the great things about my job is that I get to introduce young readers around the world to the many wonderful flavors and ingredients that are popular in other countries! More and more, kids (and adults) are exposed to international foods in everyday life. School curriculum is more global, families and neighborhoods are more diverse, international travel is more popular than ever, and then, of course, there is the Internet, which is definitely making the world a smaller, more accessible place. Learning how to make and enjoy international favorites at home is a fun and easy way to explore different countries and learn how similar we all are!

More than just a collection of recipes, I’ve also included fun facts about the different countries that The Around the World Cookbook “visits”. I hope you agree that learning to make delicious international foods along with a bit about the country’s culture, geography, and climate adds to the overall ‘flavor” of the culinary experience in your home.

When I was growing up, one of my favorite cookies to make and eat were small round cookies coated in powdered sugar (called confectioners’ sugar). Buttery and sweet, each bite melted away in your mouth – I guess it’s no wonder that my Mom called them Cinnamon Melt-aways. Nowadays, these cookies are still on my top ten best cookie list but I call them Mexican Wedding Cakes because they are traditionally served at, well, Mexican Weddings! Mexican “polvorones” are known in other parts of the world as Russian Tea Cakes, Italian Butternuts, Crescent Cookies, Southern Butterballs or Viennese Sugarballs. Sometimes they contain nuts and or cinnamon – both of which are optional in this recipe. No matter what you call these sweet gems, they are always delicious!


Mexican Wedding Cakes

Makes 15 cookies.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Electric mixer

Mini ice cream scoop

Cookie sheet and liner

Wire cooling rack


Ingredients for the Wedding Cakes:

8 tablespoons butter (room temperature)

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Pinch of salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

For Rolling: ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar


To make the Wedding Cakes:

  1. Preheat to 350 degrees. Have ready 1 baking sheet with non-stick liner.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, cinnamon (optional) and salt. Using the electric mixer, beat on medium speed until the mixture is well blended. Add the flour and the nuts (optional). Mix on low speed until just blended.
  3. With the mini ice cream scoop or your hands shape the dough into 1-inch balls of dough. Arrange on the cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  4. Bake until the cookies look dry and have a few tiny cracks on top, 13 minutes.
  5. Using the potholders, move the cookie sheet to the rack. When the cookies are still warm but cool enough to handle, roll in the remaining confectioners’ sugar and set on rack to cool completely.

Do you have any international cookie recipes that are favorites in your household??

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