A Pair of Mexican Desserts

You may have noticed that I haven't yet posted a single dessert recipe on this blog. I've been trying to stay healthy lately -- actually, I've been on a diet and have lost over 10 pounds (woot!). But tomorrow evening, I'm heading to a dinner party, and I've been charged with the task of bringing dessert. Needless to say, I'm pretty psyched for the opportunity to bake.

The dinner party is going to be Mexican cuisine -- guacamole, salsa, tacos, the works. So I obviously wanted to bring something that would fit the theme. The first thing that came to mind was Mexican chocolate. Holy smokes that stuff is delicious. Bittersweet chocolate with cinnamon and ground chilies. Yes, please.

So I made this Mexican chocolate tart. Chocolatey cookie crust, cinnamony and slightly spicy chocolate ganache filling, and cinnamon-spiced pecans. Say what?!

And of course, why bring one dessert to a party when you can bring two?! Just for kicks, I also made a batch of delicious Mexican wedding cookies. Crumbly, sweet, with a gorgeous nutty vanilla flavor. The perfect way to end a meal with friends.

Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon-Spiced Pecans
From Epicurious.com

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about half of one 9-ounce package cookies, finely ground in processor)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 (3.1-ounce) disk Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra), chopped
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
For pecans:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Whisk all ingredients except pecans in medium bowl. Stir in pecans. Spread in single layer on sheet, rounded side up. Bake until just browned and dry, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheet. Separate nuts, removing excess coating. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
For crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add melted butter; process until crumbs are moistened. Press crumbs into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, to within 1/8 inch of top. Bake until set, about 20 minutes. Cool on rack. 

For filling:
Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolates; whisk until melted. Add butter, 1 piece at a time; whisk until smooth. Whisk in vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne. Pour filling into crust. Chill until filling begins to set, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Arrange nuts in concentric circles atop tart. Chill until set, about 4 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with foil and keep chilled. Serve tart with whipped cream.

Mexican Wedding Cookies
From The Joy of Cooking
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread pecans on a microwave safe plate. Cook uncovered in the microwave on high power for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. They will be very aromatic and feel hot to the touch, but they should not brown. Cool, then grind them finely in a food processor

Grease or line 2 cookie sheets. Beat butter, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, salt, and vanilla with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer until well blended. Stir in the ground pecans and the flour. Stir until well blended. Shape into 1-inch balls and arrange about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool. Roll the cooled cookies in confectioners' sugar.