The Wedding Cookie Table

wedding cookie table italian wedding cookies

So, as you may (or may not) have noticed, I have been MIA for the past few months. There are a couple of reasons for that: First, Cathy converted the site from Blogger to WordPress. WordPress and I have a mutual loathing, so suffice to say I have been avoiding working with it like the plague. Temper tantrum over, however; it’s time to pull on my big girl panties and deal with it.

Secondly, my absence was for a far happier reason: The state of Florida finally got its head out of its ass and legalized same-sex marriage in January, so I officially became Mrs. Grillmaster D on April 12.

Now, Grillmaster D and I have been together for over 17 years, so my immediate thought was to have a friend who is an officiant marry us on the beach and meet friends for drinks afterward. My friends and family thought differently, however. Have a wedding, they said. It will be fun, they said.

And it was. But it was also a lot of work.

Grillmaster D and I had already had a spiritual wedding 12 years ago, so I didn’t want to do the whole boring gown and tux thing again. I wanted something different and something fun. So instead, we decided to throw a badass rainbow-colored party on Pass-a-Grille Beach with a small hand-fasting ceremony and maybe a couple of “wedding” elements at the “reception”: a small cake, a wedding cookie table.

A wedding cookie table, you ask? What is this wedding cookie table of which you speak?

Imagine my surprise when I found out that, outside of the Pittsburgh area from where I originally hail, very few people have ever heard of a wedding cookie table. A wedding cookie table is just what it sounds like: In place of or in addition to a wedding cake, a large table with different cookies, typically prepared by family members, is presented to guests at the wedding reception. There are also boxes provided for guests to take a selection home with them, much in the way you might offer boxes for a slice of wedding cake.

It can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose although, when my cousins got married, my aunts would bake for weeks. When my mother—who is Italian, retired and occasionally bored—found out no one coming to our wedding had ever heard of a wedding cookie table before, she kicked it into high gear and produced about 12 different kinds of cookies for 85 guests herself (I added three kinds of my own for my gluten-free friends).

It was a huge hit.

You can choose whatever kinds of cookies you like, bearing in mind that you want to offer a good mix to your guests. Think about color, presentation, possible food allergies or sensitivities, and don’t forget the little ones in the crowd (chocolate chip cookies without nuts are usually perfect). Of course, you don’t even have to limit a wedding cookie table to a wedding event. Baptisms, bridal showers, bar mitzvahs, graduations—the list of possible events where you can offer a cookie table is endless.

In Pittsburgh culture, Italian wedding cookies—often called Mexican wedding cookies or Russian teacakes as well—are usually sacrosanct as one of the offerings on any wedding cookie table. Here is my favorite recipe:

Italian Wedding Cookies

1-1/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 cups organic unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups pecans, toasted and finely ground
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Sift together 3/4 cups of the powdered sugar and the salt. Cream butter, gradually add the powdered sugar mixture until well-incorporated, then beat until light and fluffy.

Stir in the pecans and vanilla extract, then gradually blend in the flour and mix well. Do not overmix at this point, just blend enough so the flour is fully incorporated.

Shape the dough into balls, using about 1 teaspoon of dough for each cookie. Place the balls on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for about 15 minutes or until they just barely start to color. Do not brown.

Cool slightly, and remove to wire racks. Strain the extra 1/2 cup powdered sugar over them, using a fine mesh sieve. Cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 3-1/2 dozen.

~ Tiffany