Bed-time Cookies, Inspired by a Lazy Pooch

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I know I really shouldn't be jealous of a dog, but I just can't help myself. The younger of our two golden retrievers, Alix, is both aggravating and inspiring. And at times, I just can't help but envy her. Let me try and explain. Alix, who is one of the most affectionate and gentlest creatures I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, is also one of the laziest. I've never seen anything or anyone display such an incredible amount of visible delight from loafing about or sleeping. Whether she's laying on my bed--which technically she's not supposed to do but does all the time anyway--or her own custom-made down-filled dog bed, she has the ability to make herself look so incredibly comfortable and satisfied. And when I'm working late into the night, trying to finish an overdue essay or some other piece of work, and I turn around and see her chilling out so ecstatically, I can't help but wish I had her life. Or when she wakes S and me up at 7am to feed her on a Saturday or Sunday, and then after having had her breakfast and having gotten me up, jumps into my bed and promptly falls asleep in my spot, I can't help but harbor immediate thoughts of kicking her in the butt (which, of course, I never do)--but of course, secretly, I just want to go back to bed like her. (The above picture is her in S's spot, having jumped on the bed and onto S's pillows while S was having a shower one morning.) When I leave for work, she's snoozing. When I come home, the other dog, Sascha, is all wags, happy to see me. Alix is never at the door first. Usually, after a minute or two, she'll groggily walk out of the bedroom, obviously having just woken up. She lives to sleep and loves doing so. S and I constantly talk about just how inspiring she is. She makes us want to spend a day doing nothing but lying in bed.

In honor of our lazy little puppy (and because I was working on finishing a project all night), S decided to make me a batch of bed-time cookies, the kind of edible treats that she knew I would really enjoy munching on while lazing around in bed. The cookies she chose to make also happen to be one of my all-time favorites, Mexican Wedding Cookies. I love these for several reasons. I love the powdered sugar that surrounds each cookie and gives it an immediate sweetness. I love their texture. When done well, they literally melt/crumble in one's mouth. Third, I love the hint of pecan in the cookie. And lastly, as a big believer that milk is a necessary companion to any cookie, I really like that these go beautifully with milk. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that without a glass of milk (or a cup of coffee), one really shouldn't even bother eating these.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Makes 6 dozen

106g pecan halves

230g confectioners' sugar

284g all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

227g unsalted butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350ΒΊF/180ΒΊC, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a food processor, combine pecans with 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar; pulse until nuts are finely ground. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar-nut mixture, flour and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough just comes together.

Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls; place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until cookies are pale on top and lightly browned on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool. Place remaining confectioners' sugar in a shallow bowl and roll cookies in it to coat completely.

p.s. I want to thank both Lynn for buying us the gorgeous wooden tray in the picture and my mother-in-law for picking up those cool Donna Hay napkins for us during her last trip to Australia.

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