How to Make Sweet and Nutty Mexican Tea Cookies

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Spice up your cookie tray with Mexican tea cookies. They're filled with pecans and topped with dulce de leche frosting. Yum!

While we love traditional recipes during the holidays, we can’t resist whipping up a few new-to-us cookie recipes to fill out our cookie trays (and impress all our neighbors when we drop them off on the porch). Sure you could go crazy decorating sugar cookies, but this year why not try something a bit different?

This holiday season, we’re craving these Mexican tea cookies. They’re filled with pecans and cinnamon and topped with a creamy dulce de leche frosting. They’re a little bit different, but still have all the holiday tastes we love.

How to Make Mexican Tea Cookies

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This Mexican tea cookie recipe comes to us from reader David Ross of Spokane Valley, Washington. He says that they are a holiday favorite with his family, and after tasting them, we’re sure they’ll be a favorite in your home too. Here’s what you need to make these cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup dulce de leche
  • 2 tablespoons ground pecans

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Supplies You’ll Want for Making These Cookies

  • Cookie cutters: Skip the fancy cookie cutters for this recipe. You’ll want some basic round cutters here.
  • Cinnamon: Ceylon cinnamon is most common in Mexican baking. This cinnamon has the most mellow flavor. If you want a spicier option, try Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon.
  • Cookie sheets: Around the holidays, we could all use a few extra cookie sheets for regular baking. And if you’re really serious about Christmas baking, check out a few more essentials we like to have in the kitchen this time of year.

Directions

Step 1: Make the cookie dough

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Start these cookies by creaming together butter, sugar and confectioners’ sugar until light and fluffy. This will take about five minutes for best results. Then beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, pecans, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Gradually beat the mix of dry ingredients into your butter, sugar and egg mixture until you form a dough. The dough will be fairly soft, but it will firm up in the next step of this recipe.

Step 2: Chill

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Like other cutout cookies, this Mexican tea cake recipe requires the dough to be chilled. To do this, press the dough into a flat disk, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. If you wanted, you could even prep this dough the night before.

Editor’s tip: There are a lot of holiday cookie recipes you can prep ahead and chill overnight. Here are some make-ahead cookie recipes to get you started.

Step 3: Roll out the dough

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Roll out the cookie dough on a lightly floured surface. You want the dough to be about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out rounds with a 2-inch circle cookie cutter. Reroll the scraps as needed.

Step 4: Bake

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Place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between the cookies. Bake at 350ºF until the edges start to brown slightly—about 10 to 12 minutes. They will smell absolutely heavenly!

Once baked, remove the cookies from the pans and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

Step 5: Make the buttercream

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Next, it’s time to make the buttercream. Start by beating the softened butter, cream and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until rich and creamy. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar alternately with the dulce de leche until you have a nice, smooth buttercream. If you find it’s too stiff, you can always add a bit more cream.

Editor’s tip: Dulce de leche is commonly found in the international food aisle of the grocery store (if it’s not in the baking aisle). Our Test Kitchen uses Nestlé La Lechera for this recipe. If you use Eagle Brand, be sure to thicken according to the label’s instructions before using it in this recipe. And if you can’t find it at the store, you can make dulce de leche at home.

Step 6: Start decorating

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After the cookies have cooled, give them a quick dusting of confectioners’ sugar. Then pipe your buttercream onto the top of the cookies with a piping bag. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a zip-top bag or even spread the frosting on top with an offset spatula.

Step 7: Give the cookies a finishing touch

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Before enjoying, give the cookies one final touch: a sprinkling of finely chopped pecans. It gives these cookies a little more panache and some extra crunch.

How to Store Mexican Tea Cookies

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Because of the buttercream frosting, it’s best to store these cookies in the fridge. They’ll be OK set out on your cookie tray on Christmas, but until then, an air-tight container in the refrigerator is best.

If you want to make these cookies further in advance and freeze them, stop after baking and freeze them unfrosted. When you’re ready to enjoy, defrost, make your buttercream and frost them then.

Whether you enjoy these cookies right away or a bit closer to the holidays, they are definitely a treat that will be in high demand. Who can resist pecans, frosting and a hint of caramel-like dulce de leche?

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.