You can call them whatever you want. polvorones, butterballs, sandies, Russian tea cookies, even. We call them Mexican wedding ball cookies, but it isn't about the name.
It's about the texture. It's about the way butter and confectioner's sugar melt together under the weight of your fingers, clumping into thick, sticky crumbs. It's about the way the solid looking ball crumbles against the roof of your mouth, spilling sweet and buttery all at once over your tongue. It's the hint of cinnamon, sprinkled not once but twice.
The cookies remind me of the scraps left on the plate after a large pile of French toast is gone. We always doused our French toast with confectioner's sugar, rather than maple syrup, as kids, and it would form lumps with the butter. When the toast was gone I would scrape my fork across the plate, catching each lingering lump between the prongs, and sweeping it up into one final bite—deliciously, terribly, impossibly sweet.
Mexican wedding ball cookies are like that. To tell the truth, they're hardly more than confectioner's sugar and butter, first beaten then rolled, then baked and rolled again. There's a bit of flour, a sprinkle of cinnamon, a dash of vanilla, and a pinch of salt, but beyond that, they're mainly just butter and sugar. The only catch is to leave time to chill; rolled out warm, they'll never make it off your palms.
MEXICAN WEDDING BALL COOKIES
Makes about 2 dozen
Cream 1 cup butter (room temperature) and 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 cups flour. Form into two balls, wrap in plastic, and chill for 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Roll dough into bite sized balls. In a wide, shallow bowl, mix 1 cup confectioner's sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Roll balls in sugar mixture and place on cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes; remove from oven, let slightly, and roll in sugar mixture again. Let cool and eat, or package up for gifts.