My most cherished memories of Christmas, as a child, were the trips to Mexico we would make. My parents would pack us, like sardines in can, in that old “Country Squire” station wagon. My abuela’s house was big and could accommodate our big familia. I seriously had over 70 first cousins! On the 24th of December, “Nochebuena” it was a special celebration for all the kids. We were each given goodie bags in a brown sandwich bag filled with assorted Mexican candies (bright colored colacion candies), peanuts and an orange. A special piñata filled with even more candy, fruits, and nuts. And of course we always had the special dulce de nuez candies all done up on a festive plate! Those were magical times, just like a fairytale.
Yields about 40 candies
3 cups pecans, finely ground
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 1/2 to 4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
40 candy paper cups
1/8 cup canola oil
1. Transfer the pecans to a bowl, add in the condensed milk and stir well to combine. Gradually add in the confectioners sugar until a dough forms. It seems like a lot of sugar, but you really need the mixture to be very thick or else it will not firm up. It will be sticky and a little tough to stir.
2. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, stir well to combine. Line up your candy papers on a cookie sheet. Pour about 1/8 of a cup of canola oil into a small bowl, using your hands, cover the palms of your hands with 1 tablespoon of oil. This will help with rolling and keep the candy from sticking to your hands.
3. Roll the candy mixture into 1-inch balls and roll them in the cinnamon and sugar. Place in candy cups. When done rolling all of the candy balls, top with pecan half, pieces or Christmas sprinkles.Push it down into the center of candy ball. The sprinkles won’t stick too well, so you could add a small drop of dulce de leche or melted chocolate and that will hold them in place. Cover the candies with wax paper and let sit overnight. Yields about 40 candies.