Friends of ours flew to Mexico in late April, a small group of family in tow, to get hitched. Soon after their return, looking tanned and fabulous, they came to our house for dinner. As they walked into our kitchen, the new ‘Mrs.’ handed me a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. I was touched that they would even think to bring me home a gift while away on such a momentous journey. I untied the string and unwrapped the paper to reveal a smooth dark shiny bottle of Mexican Vanilla. I cracked the top, brought the bottle to my nose closed my eyes and let the fragrance work its magic. Immediately I knew this vanilla was different than any I had ever met – like a great bottle of wine there were complex things happening inside the bottle – the heady scent of buttery caramel, the sweet joy of the ‘Happy Birthday’ scratch and sniff stickers from my childhood, combined with images of the clear barley ‘Toy Candy’ my mum used to buy every Christmas when we were kids. I opened my eyes and found myself back in our kitchen, no longer a 12 year old clutching my sticker book under my arm. It makes me wonder – how many more times in my life will I think about those memories? It’s truly wondrous what a smell can do to you. I tucked the bottle into my baking cupboard and we had a great dinner.
Two weeks later, ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ hosted a wedding reception at their house. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if they had something at their Nova Scotia reception with a little Mexican tribute to their wedding trip?’ This is where the Mexican Wedding Cakes come in. I had never heard of them before but after some online research I found a great recipe on Epicurious. They looked cute in the photo, had a ton of rave reviews, seemed super easy and would give me the chance to use my Mexican Vanilla!! I offered to make a batch to use as a wedding favour and my offer was quickly and graciously accepted.
Two days before the reception, I baked 100 ‘cakes’ (the cakes are actually bite-sized nutty shortbread cookies dusted with icing sugar). One day before, I created and printed personalized tags and put each cake into its own small clear cellophane bag. I tied each bag with a piece of bright, festive ribbon laced with a tag and displayed them in a large galvanized metal bucket. When we left the reception we took a few cakes home with us, and I have to say – they were really very tasty! Click here for the recipe!!