Mexican Wedding Cakes

From 6 Bittersweets
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes about 3 dozen cookies

XIAOLU'S NOTES: Please note that the dough needs to be prepared ahead of time and chilled at least 6 hours before baking. Don't try to bake more than one tray at a time, since baking each tray in the middle of the oven is crucial to getting evenly cooked and browned cookies. Feel free to substitute almonds, pistachios, or almost any other nuts you like for the pecans. Have fun with it!

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup very finely chopped lightly toasted pecans
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped bar (optional)
2 T finely chopped sweetened flaked coconut (optional)

Sift flour, salt, spices, cocoa powder, and salt together into a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream together butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderately high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in vanilla; then add flour, pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut (if using) and mix at low speed until just combined. Chill, covered, for at least 6 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Let dough stand at room temperature until just pliable, 15 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, sift remaining 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar into a large shallow bowl.

Roll tablespoons of dough into 1-inch balls and arrange about 2 inches apart on lightly buttered large baking sheets. Bake in batches in middle of oven until bottoms are pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes. (You can keep prepared trays in the refrigerator until it's their turn in the oven.) Transfer cookies to powdered sugar while still hot, gently rolling to coat well, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. (Don't worry when some of this sugar melts; it's meant to create a layer for the 2nd coat of sugar to stick to.)

Roll cookies in powdered sugar again when cooled.