You might know them by a different name like vegan snowball cookies, polvorones, or Russian tea cakes, but there is no doubt that vegan Mexican wedding cookies are THE cookies to make this season. These incredibly “buttery” cookies are studded with chopped pecans, spiced with cinnamon and ground anise, and covered in a delicate layer of powdered sugar.

whipped butter in a glass bowl for vegan mexican wedding cookies

In Mexico, these cookies can be found all year long, but they are especially popular during Christmas. They are not called vegan Mexican wedding cookies, they are known as hojarascas or polvorones depending on where in Mexico you are.

dough for vegan mexican wedding cookies in a large glass bowl

I don’t think I’ve ever seen them actually served at weddings, but you never know, Mexico is a big country were traditions, cuisine, and even accents can differ from state to state. I did grow up eating these, but my favorite is definitely the version with orange zest and cinnamon-sugar.

little balls of cookie dough on a sheet tray ready to bake

We love Christmas! It’s such a joyous time when you live it through the eyes of the children. We are a bilingual and multi-cultural household so we do try to incorporate different traditions from our cultures. The kids get presents (toys) from Santa and the Reyes Magos (Three Kings) bring them books and treats. We eat tamales and pozole, but there’s also turkey and gingerbread house decorating. What are some of your favorite traditions??

a baked cookie in a bowl of powdered sugar

The Recipe: Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies

This cookie is basically a shortbread cookie, so the first thing you’ll need to do is cream the vegan butter and sugar. After this you add the flour and seasonings and mix well. It is very easy to make and take only 15 min. to bake in the oven!!

vegan mexican wedding cookies in a poinsetta box with a ribbon

  • I used earth balance to make this recipe, but you can use your favorite vegan butter.
  • You can shape these any way you like in little balls or you can use this same dough to roll out and cut into shapes. I’ve even used it to make thumbprint cookies.
  • This recipe makes quite a bit of cookies so if you don’t need that many cookies I suggest you still make the whole recipe then freeze half the dough and save it for later. Instant cookies!!

vegan mexican wedding cookies in a poinsetta box with a ribbon

vegan mexican wedding cookies in a poinsetta box with a ribbon
5 from 1 vote
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Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies

Vegan Mexican Wedding cookies, this buttery cookie is studded with pecans, spiced with cinnamon and anise, and covered in powdered sugar
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword mexican wedding cookies, vegan cookies, vegan mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 32 cookies
158 kcal
Author Dora S.

Ingredients

  • 5 oz. (2/3 cup) Sugar, granulated
  • 12 oz. (1 ½ cups) Vegan butter, room temperature
  • 16 oz. (3 cups) Flour, all-purpose
  • ½ cup Chopped pecans
  • ½ tsp. Ground anise seed
  • 1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Powdered sugar

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream butter and sugar, in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment.
  3. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and ground anise. Mix in chopped pecans.
  4. Slowly add flour, with mixer at low speed. Mix until well combined.
  5. Line 2 sheet-pans with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1 inch balls.
  6. Place balls on sheet-tray, 1 inch apart from each other.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until bottoms become golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven. Place on a wire rack to cool.
  9. Once completely cool roll cookies in powdered sugar.

Chef's Notes

You can also use this cookie dough recipe to make thumbprint cookies. Dust with cinnamon-sugar instead of powdered sugar for a more hojarascas feel.

This recipe makes quite a bit of cookies so if you don't need that many cookies I suggest you still make the whole recipe then freeze half the dough and save it for later. Instant cookies!!

Nutrition Facts
Vegan Mexican Wedding Cookies
Amount Per Serving
Calories 158 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Sodium 100mg 4%
Potassium 27mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 15g 5%
Sugars 4g
Protein 1g 2%
Vitamin A 7.6%
Calcium 0.9%
Iron 4.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

 

Have you ever had roasted acorn squash?? The roasting brings out the sweetness of the squash and it just begs to be filled with all sorts of veggie goodness. This quinoa stuffed acorn squash is studded with sautéed wild mushrooms and topped with a pipian rojo.

acorn squash on a sheet tray after being roasted

Pipian rojo is a hearty, stick to your ribs kind of sauce, made with roasted pumpkin seeds, roasted tomato, and dried pasilla, arbol, and ancho chiles. It pairs perfectly with the umami of the mushrooms and provides a touch of creaminess to the whole dish. The pipian is a recipe from the excellent book Decolonize Your Diet, which I highly recommend.

cooked quinoa in a silver pot

I was supposed to publish this recipe before Thanksgiving since it would make a great vegan Thanksgiving main course, but of course, life got in the way and I couldn’t publish it in time. We hosted Thanksgiving at our house this year, and it was so good to be surrounded by all the craziness and noise that family brings.

cooked quinoa and mushrooms in a saute pan

Our feast was a mix of both vegan and omni dishes. My husband (who is not vegan) was adamant that there needed to be turkey so we compromised and almost all the sides and desserts were vegan.This was my first time trying a vegan celebration roast!! I’m not going to lie, I was a little worried. I ended up buying two, the Gardein Holiday Roast and the Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast en Croute.

quinoa stuffed acorn squash and spoon pouring sauce on top of it

The Gardein Roast is more turkey-like and filled with sort of stuffing. The Field Roast Cranberry Roast is more sausage-like with ginger, cranberries, and apples. The baby and I enjoyed both of them very much. I was very surprised and thrilled when one of my sisters had celebration roast instead of turkey!! After trying both of them, I can’t decide which one I like best, they’re both really good. I do have to say that If you’re more into turkey-like meats then go with the Gardein Roast, if you’re more of a sausage person then go with the Field Roast. How great is it that vegans and vegetarians have so many delicious options available!I’m definitely getting a celebration roast for Christmas.

a fork in the quinoa stuffed acorn squash

 

The Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pipian Rojo

  • You can make the pipian rojo and the quinoa the day before to make this super fast.
  • If quinoa is not your favorite you can use rice instead.
  • Kabocha squash would also work really well with this recipe.
  • Wild mushrooms like maitake or oyster would make this dish even better.
quinoa stuffed acorn squash with pipian rojo on a white plate
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Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash with Pipian Rojo

Quinoa stuffed acorn squash with sauteed mushrooms topped with a smoky pipian rojo and cilantro. A great centerpiece for any vegan feast.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword pipian rojo, quinoa, stuffed squash
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 servings
Author Dora S.

Ingredients

  • 2 Acorn squash. cut in half, seeds removed
  • 1 cup Quinoa, raw, rinsed
  • 2 cups Vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ cup Water or (1 tbsp. of the oil of your choice)
  • ½ lb. Cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup Minced shallots
  • 1 cup Chopped raw greens, kale, spinach or swiss chard
  • 1 ½ cups Pipian Rojo
  • ¼ cup Chopped cilantro

Preparation

  1. Preheat Oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the squash, cut side down, on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.
  3. Roast for 30 min. flip the squash over, then continue roasting until tender about 20 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  4. In the meantime, heat a medium pot to medium heat and add quinoa. Pour in vegetable stock and 1 tsp. of salt and stir. Bring mixture to a very low simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and the quinoa is tender.
  5. Remove from heat and let sit in the pot for 6 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  6. Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat, add ¼ cup of water (or 1 tbsp. of oil) and cook the mushrooms until golden brown, about 6-7 minutes. If the mushrooms begin to stick, add a little bit of vegetable stock.
  7. Lower heat to medium-low, and add shallots, cook for 3-4 minutes or until the shallots are tender.
  8. Mix in the greens, and let them cook down, about 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add the mushroom mixture to the quinoa in the pot, and mix well. Season to taste.
  10. 10. Fill your acorn halves with the quinoa mixture and top with the pipian rojo, and chopped cilantro. Place plenty of extra pipian rojo on the table, because you will be coming back for more of this delicious sauce!

Chef's Notes

  • Instead of pipian rojo you could also use mole poblano.
  • You can make the pipian rojo and the quinoa the day before to make this super-fast.
  • If quinoa is not your favorite you can use rice instead.
  • Kabocha squash would also work really well with this recipe.
  • Wild mushrooms like maitake or oyster would make this dish even better.

 

 

 

 

Who knew death could be so colorful? Purple and orange tissue paper banners line altars decorated with marigold petals, colorful sugar skulls, and a bounty of fruit and vegetables. This is a celebration of life and triumph over death, the intermingling of the religious beliefs of the indigenous people of Mexico and the faith of the Spaniards that conquered them. The Day of the Dead is not only a holiday that honors those who have left us, but it is believed that on that special day the souls of the dead return to visit the living. Both the indigenous people and the Church of the Spaniards believed that death was not an end, but only a passageway to another life. That is why this is a joyous occasion, a homecoming festival, and at the same time a way to mock death and the power it holds over our bodies.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, the Aztecs held rituals for the dead during the summer months in a joint celebration with the first days of harvest. The dead were traditionally buried with rich offering of ceramics, personal objects, and food. The offerings where meant to assist them in their journey to the afterlife. After the arrival of the Catholic missionaries their traditions and beliefs were merged with those of the indigenous people, and the festivities were moved to coincide with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, Nov 1st and Nov 2nd.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

 

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

The festivities have evolved over the years and differ from region to region. Some of the most popular ones include altars in honor of loved ones who have passed, preparing the dead’s favorite foods, and gathering at the cemetery to decorate a loved one’s grave, share a meal and reminiscence. My favorite tradition is the elaboration of the altars. The symbolism incorporated into the altars is so rich and meaningful that it truly honors the dead, those we keep in our hearts, but somehow with the passing of time fade in our memories.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Every altar has several key symbols which are:

water– as an offering to the soul to quench their thirst in their long journey

salt– as a symbol of purification and to preserve the body so it will not wither

fire– to represent the light of the faith and guide the spirits in their journey

incense– to elevate our prayers to God in heaven

flowers– marigolds, their color represents the radiance of sunlight and life

bread– as a symbol of the body of Christ, usually round loaves with topped with “bones” and known as pan de muerto

a picture of the person who the altar is dedicated to

religious images– to symbolize God as an intermediary between the living and the dead

the favorite foods and drinks of the departed– to delight the souls who will be visiting (the most common being Mexican hot chocolate, tequila, atole, mole, tortillas and rice

candy skulls– the indigenous held the skull as symbol of death being a part of life

tissue paper banners– purple to symbolize christian mourning and orange to symbolize Aztec mourning

fruits and vegetables– an offering from the earth

personal objects of the person being honored– to accompany them on their journey back

a dog– to protect and guide the spirits.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Every year we make an altar in our home to a loved one lost. It is our own special way of introducing our deceased loved ones to our children. We talk about the things that they liked to eat, do, and why they are important to us. On November 2nd we say a prayer for them, and keep hoping for the day we will be reunited in the afterlife. For years now, we have also been attending the Day of the Dead Festival in Oceanside, CA. The festival takes place in the Mission San Luis Rey. There are a variety of traditional foods such as tamales, tacos, tortas, aguas frescas, and pan de muerto. There is also face painting, sugar skull decorating, and regional dances. However, the highlight of the festival is the showcase of the altars, some representing various Mexican states and built by whole communities and families.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

Out of all the wonderful Mexican traditions, the Day of the Dead might be the one that still holds firm to its pre-Hispanic roots. The loved ones lost, who we cannot see or hear, make themselves present in our homes, share our food, and partake in the rejoicing of life and the conquest of death.

Sources:

Los Dias de Los Muertos, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian and National Museum of American History, 2010

Simbolismos en el altar del Dia de los Muertos, Tanatologa Aida Maria Castro Morales, 2007 (http://www.slideshare.net/internatoni/simbolismos-en-el-altar-del-da-de-muertos)

The Recipe: Vegan Day of the Dead Bread (Pan de Muerto)

This recipe might be better than the non-vegan version, according to my husband. I have substituted the eggs with potatoes, resulting in a moist, soft, and sweet bread. It is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate or coffee.

pan-de-muerto2

Bake at 350F for 40- 45 minutes. Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.

pan de muerto

 

pan de muerto
5 from 4 votes
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Vegan Day of the Dead Bread

This vegan day of the dead bread or pan de muerto is tender, sweet, and delicious. Perfect for dipping on hot chocolate.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword day of the dead, pan de muerto, vegan
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 day 45 minutes
Servings 4 loaves
Author Dora Stone

Ingredients

  • 1 pack (.25 oz) Active dry yeast
  • ½ cup (3.5 oz) Almond milk, room temperature, 3.5 oz
  • 3 1/3 cup (17.5 oz) Bread flour
  • ¾ cup (5.5 oz) Sugar, granulated
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Orange zest
  • ¼ cup Orange juice
  • ¾ cup (6 oz.) Potato, Yukon gold, cooked, mashed
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp. (4 ¼ oz.) Vegan butter room temperature, cut into 1 inch pieces,

Topping

  • 2 tbsp. Vegan butter, melted
  • ½ cup Sugar, granulated

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the almond milk and add 2 tbsp. of the flour. Whisk to incorporate and let rest in a warm place for 20 min.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer, with the dough hook, combine the dry ingredients: the rest of the flour, salt, sugar, and orange zest. Mix.
  3. Add the wet ingredients: the orange juice, mashed potato, and yeast-flour mixture. Mix on low until the dough begins to incorporate.
  4. Add the ½ cup + 1 tbsp. of softened butter little by little and increase speed to medium. Mix for 15 min. until the dough has come off the sides of the bowl and is stretchy but not sticky.
  5. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and fold the side over unto each other and flip. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  6. The next day take the dough from the fridge, remove the plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place (70-75F) until the dough comes to room temperature, about an hour.
  7. Take a piece of dough, weighing about 3 oz., and set aside. Divide the remaining dough into four pieces. Roll them tightly into rounds and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment. Press down on the rounds lightly.
  8. Use the reserved dough to make 4 small balls the size of a quarter and set aside. Use the remaining dough to roll out eight strips long enough to cover the rounds. Place two strips on top of each round forming an x, use your fingers to press lightly on the strips to form knobs, they should resemble bones. Repeat the process with the rest of the rounds.
  9. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 ½ hrs. in a warm place (70- 75F) or until double in size.
  10. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F. Place the small balls in the center of the rounds with a little bit of water. Bake for 20-30 min. until the rounds have become a rich brown color. Cover with foil and bake for 10 to 15 min. more, until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 190F. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.
  11. While the bread is still warm melt 2 tbsp. of butter and brush the bread with it. Sprinkle evenly with sugar.
  12. Let bread completely cool before eating.

Recipe Video

Chef's Notes

My favorite vegan butter is Earth Balance. This recipe is a combination of my dad’s recipe and Fanny Gerson’s method for Pan de Muerto in My Sweet Mexico.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.

This vegan Day of the Dead bread (Pan de Muerto) is moist, airy, has a hint of orange zest, and is perfect for dipping in hot chocolate.