Cocoa Nib Polvorones ( 20 cookies)

We’d finally started getting a touch of spring-like weather here in Kentucky, then today brought an unexpected snow shower. Or maybe it was expected; I didn’t read the weather report.

Whatever the forecast, these little snowballs seemed like the right sort of cookie for today.

Cocoa nib wedding cookies

You’ve probably heard of Mexican wedding cookies or Russian wedding cookies or just plain ol “wedding cookies” before, but you may not know how they got their name. Little known fact: they’re so good you’ll want to marry them. Yep. That’s the official explanation.

Traditional recipes call for heaps of pecans, giving them a buttery, crumbly, crunchy texture. I don’t want to break up a good thing, and the pecans are a seriously good thing, but I did think maybe it was time to add a new member to the Wedding Cookie family.

I thought by swapping the pecans for cocoa nibs I could make a chocolate version of the original, but they turned out like something else entirely. A little crunchy-crumbly on the edges, a little cakey, a little chewy, a little brownie-like in the middle.

Something new and familiar all at once.

chocolate wedding cookies

I’ve got a habit of posting some obnoxiously labor intensive recipes, so I feel like I’m way overdue for sharing something low key.

Once you’ve got the ingredients assembled, you can put these cookies together in five minutes. No food processors, no piping bags, no overnight steeping madness. You don’t even need a mixer, although that does make it a little easier.

This recipe always makes me think of my friend and fellow CIA grad Nella, since I first baked these cookies in honor of her wedding.

Cocoa Nib Polvorones

8 ounces unsalted butter
5.5 ounces sugar
1 ounce brown sugar
3/4 ounce cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 ounces cocoa nibs
9 ounces all purpose flour

2 ounces powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°

Cream butter and sugars with cocoa powder, salt, spices, and vanilla for about 3 minutes. Turn the speed to low, add in the nibs and flour, mixing until uniform.

Use a large cookie scoop to portion the dough into 1 1/2 Tablespoon pieces. Roll each piece into a sphere, then tumble in the sifted powdered sugar.

Arrange on a baking sheet, about 4” apart. Resist the urge to flatten them as they will spread out all on their own as they bake.

Bake 8-12 minutes, or until puffed and slightly firm to the touch.

Cool thoroughly, then dust with the remaining powdered sugar for a snowy white look. Store in an airtight container for up to one week at room temperature.


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Any questions?

Dec 09, 2011 ·  1:03 AM

I love love polvorones ! We have a similar version in the Philippines! I’m not the one getting married, but I want one of these, pls.! Great to share Nelly’s big day with you.

 · @Mango_Queen ·

Dec 09, 2011 ·  2:42 AM

I wonder if that’s the same explanation for Italian Wedding Soup as well? Nice to “meet” you!

 · diabeticFoodie ·

Dec 09, 2011 ·  4:09 AM

Thanks for joining the fun, gad to have you aboard for the virtual shower!

 · Sanjeeta kk ·

Dec 09, 2011 ·  8:45 AM

Really great piece of advice!

 · Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray ·

Dec 09, 2011 ·  9:01 AM

I know, I know. M would appreciate this post, I need to be off the twitter and in the life a little more sometimes! Thanks for the great advice and these cookies…I might make them today and share them with the 4 people attending our ceremony

 · Nelly Rodriguez ·

Dec 09, 2011 ·  9:26 AM

What a sweet post, and delicious too! Love the cookies and wish I was getting married, LOL!! Lovely to meet you via the shower! Deeba

 · Deeba ·

Dec 09, 2011 ·  9:47 AM

Lovely. Sound advice and yummy cookies—a match made in heaven!

 · Jenni ·

Dec 09, 2011 · 11:15 AM

Chocolate and Butter. Perfect combination like Nelly and “M”!Glad 2 meet you on #NellysBigDay! @fromagechick

 · 30AEATS ·

Dec 09, 2011 · 11:27 AM

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of these before, but I have some nibs in the cabinet, so I should probably make them. Excellent advice for the soon-to-be newlyweds!

 · Carrie @ poet in the pantry ·

Dec 09, 2011 · 12:31 PM

So nice to meet everyone else who participated in this virtual shower! xoxo

@Mango Queen, in the Philippines too? I hope you’ll post a recipe some day, I love trying out wedding-type cookies in all their variations!

@diabeticFoodie, haha, perhaps! Lovely to meet you too!

@Sanjeeta, you’re such a darling to arrange this for Nelly. Thanks for including me!

@Rachel, my husband would tell me that even seven years, that’s a piece of advice I should take myself! Lol! We’re all twitter junkies…

@Nelly, we killed our TV when we got married, we could only watch DVDs on it. That saved us from a lot of mindless nights and inspired so many great conversations on that couch instead of blank stares. Enjoy your day tomorrow, sweetie! I’m so happy for you!!

@Deeba, haha, it’d be nice to have a big party for yourself, huh? I could stand one of those…

@Jenni, just wish I could have had a picture to share. Someday, perhaps.

@30AEATS, nothing could be better!

@Carrie, you should definitely make them, they are crazy delicious. Don’t skip the spices, they make it magical.


Feb 28, 2013 ·  8:28 AM

OMG…with cocoa nibs I want to marry them too! These sound fantastic and I can’t wait to try them.

- Nan

 · Silver Magpies ·

Feb 28, 2013 ·  9:06 AM

quick question: do you think you could refrigerate these for a few hours prior to forming and baking? I’m guessing it’d make them a lot more dense and chewy with a sacrifice on the “spread during cooking” phase.

 · Charlotte · 

Feb 28, 2013 ·  9:23 AM

@Nan, hahaha, congratulations on your engagement!

@Charlotte, I don’t think that would be any problem at all!


Feb 28, 2013 ·  9:44 AM

Cocoa nibs….do you have a web site where I can buy them…or would chocolate chips work? Headed you way mid March make it stop snowing…LOL….planning to stop by the restaurant …

 · Pj · 

Feb 28, 2013 ·  9:57 AM

Hi Pj! You can buy cocoa nibs on Amazon or ChocoSphere. If you have an organic/gourmet grocery in town, they’d surely sell them too. Cocoa nibs are very much like nuts, hard and dry and crunchy and un-meltable. Using chocolate chips would dramatically change the flavor and texture of the cookie.


Feb 28, 2013 · 11:40 AM

These look beautiful! We call the wedding cookies “pecan balls” in our family, although our own are definitely good enough to marry. Must try this though, next time I find some cocoa nibs. And I love that it doesn’t need a food processor or a mixer. Simple recipes are wonderful in so many ways. But especially when you have no dishwasher.

 · ElizaB ·

Feb 28, 2013 · 12:50 PM

We were “introduced” to you via Fat Pig in the Market. Great blog, and those cookies are gorgeous! Now…to find some cocoa nibs!

 · A Couple in the Kitchen ·

Feb 28, 2013 ·  6:57 PM

Sounds delicious and looks delectable. Now where or where do I find cocoa nibs?

 · Radhika ·

Mar 01, 2013 · 10:18 AM

Polvorones are my favorite cookie. OINK!

 · fatpiginthemarket ·

Mar 01, 2013 · 10:52 PM

@ElizaB, oh so true. I have to wash all my own dishes at work, so I definitely know the feeling!

@Couple in the Kitchen, thanks for stopping by! Happy hunting.

@Radhika, you can buy cocoa nibs online via Amazon or ChocoSphere, or at gourmet-type grocery stores (local coop, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, etc) where you live.

@fatpiginthemarket, oh, seriously?! Yay! I’ve got good timing then.


Mar 02, 2013 · 11:02 PM

Hey Stella,

These look gorgeous,

Any thoughts on how these could be made GlutenFree?


 · Emma · 

Mar 03, 2013 ·  1:53 AM

Hi Emily! Yes! I haven’t had a chance to experiment with the recipe, but I’d start with a blend of equal parts teff flour, kinako and rice flour to replace the wheat flour.


Mar 04, 2013 ·  4:21 PM

These were also my sister’s favorite cookies, I used to make for her all the time, until I made the mistake of telling her about the amount of butter in the recipe. Since then, she’s avoided them like the plague which is a shame since they’re really good and it’s an easy recipe.

 · AnnieB · 

Mar 04, 2013 ·  4:59 PM

@AnnieB, serious bummer! I hate when people freak out about how much butter is in a recipe, because that has nothing to do with how fattening it is. The question is: how many servings does it make? A classic “wedding cookie” does have a lot of butter, but it usually makes like 4 or 5 dozen little cookies, so it isn’t a huge deal when you take that into account. Try and win your sister back, lol!


Mar 05, 2013 ·  6:20 PM

@stella, I don’t hold out much hope in winning her back. This is a transcript of my conversation with the same sister about cream scones:

her: can I substitute low fat milk for the cream?
me: sure, but it won’t be as moist. Anyway, it’s only 1/2 c and there’s already a lot of butter in that recipe. Cream is not going to add that much more calories or fat. I do want to point out that it’s a CREAM scone recipe.
her: But it will be less fat overall, though…

See what I mean? SIGH.

 · AnnieB · 

Mar 05, 2013 ·  8:55 PM

hahahah, you’ve got me laughing so hard. Okay, so there’s no hope. More for you?


Mar 06, 2013 · 11:48 AM

Just made these – I never realised that cacao nibs were the chocolate equivalent of crack.

 · Amazing Bakery ·

Mar 07, 2013 ·  2:09 PM

Day 2 and they’ve improved! How could they do that? OMG – I used Cacao, which is raw cocoa, and Bournville cocoa powder. I also skipped the icing sugar as I’m not a fan of too much sweet. I cannot believe how nice these are. Himself shaped them, so they’re about the size of the palm of your hand, and about an inch thick in the middle, and they won’t be here by tomorrow!

 · Amazing Bakery ·

Mar 07, 2013 ·  5:51 PM

@Amazing Bakery, haha, cocoa nibs are pretty darn addicting. I love the sound of your jumbo version; I’ll have to try super sizing a batch. So glad they held up for you!


May 20, 2013 · 10:54 AM

I LOVE cacao nibs! Thank you for sharing this!

 · Melissa · 

May 22, 2013 ·  5:38 PM

You’re welcome, Melissa. If you give it a shot, you’ll have to let me know how they turn out.


May 24, 2013 · 10:58 PM

Made these today…another High Five for Stella…what is your “go to” cocoa powder? I used cacao powder Navitas naturals only because that was all I had in the pantry…the cookies are a bit lighter in color than your picture…these cookies just beg for a glass of red wine to go along….

 · PJ · 

May 27, 2013 ·  9:36 PM

Hi PJ! I’m crazy about Cocoa Barry cocoa powder, which you can buy on Amazon. After that, Penzey’s had a very nice Dutch cocoa that I often use as well. I haven’t heard of the Navitas, I’ll have to look into it!



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