Polvorones (Mexican Wedding Cookies)

Why this recipe works:
A great gumbo recipe features a thick, smooth, unified sauce, with lots of well-seasoned vegetables, meat, and fish. For our gumbo recipe, we made a deep, dark roux in half the time by heating the oil before adding the flour. We then added room-temperature fish stock (made from shrimp and clam juice) to prevent separating. For flavor, we used plenty of garlic, dried thyme, and bay leaves but just 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. And we added generous amounts of smoked sausage and shrimp.

NOTE: Making a dark roux can be dangerous. The mixture reaches temperatures in excess of 400 degrees. Therefore, use a deep pot for cooking the roux and long-handled utensils for stirring it, being careful not to splash it on yourself. One secret to smooth gumbo is adding shrimp stock that is neither too hot nor too cold. For a stock that is at the right temperature when the roux is done, start preparing it before the vegetables and other ingredients, strain it, and then give it a head start on cooling by immediately adding ice water and clam juice. So that your constant stirring of the roux will not be interrupted, start the roux only after you've made the stock. Alternatively, you can make the stock well ahead of time and bring it back to room temperature before using it. Fresh okra may be used in place of frozen, though it tends to be more slippery, a quality that diminishes with increased cooking. Gumbo is traditionally served over rice.


1 1/2 cups walnuts
Pinch fine salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for tossing and serving
Ground cinnamon, for garnish (optional)


Put 1/2 cup of the walnuts and salt in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Roughly chop the remaining 1 cup walnuts.

Position two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.

Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, then the ground and chopped walnuts. Divide the dough in half, forming each half into a ball. Wrap separately in plastic and chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Put the confectioners' sugar in a large bowl.

Working with half of the chilled dough at a time and keeping the rest in the fridge, roll the dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between your palms into balls. Arrange the balls on a large baking sheet, spacing them 1/2 inch apart.

Bake the cookies until golden brown on the bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Toss the warm cookies in the powdered sugar. Transfer the sugar-coated cookies to a rack to cool completely. The cookies can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Once cooled, store them in an airtight container. You need to make sure they are cooled before storing them otherwise they will get soggy. Sift additional powdered sugar and cinnamon over the cookies if desired before serving.