In our house, it's not Christmas without these Snowball Cookies. I've been making this recipe since it was first shared with me by my stepmom, Sandra, in 1981. One bite of these buttery little shortbread cookies rolled in powdered sugar, and a lifelong cookie tradition began.
Snowballs have many aliases. I've often heard them called Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, and Butterballs. As soon as I posted about this recipe on my Facebook page, I was flooded with comments from readers who have their own tradition with these cookies. Many of them knew Snowballs by other names. Those included: Kourambiedes (in Greece), Pecan Dainties (in Wisconsin), Italian Wedding Cookies, Polish Snowballs, Nutballs, Pecan Sandies, and Pecan Balls. Sometimes, instead of balls, the dough is rolled into little logs and called Lady Fingers or shaped like crescent moons and called Crescents.
Several countries make claim to the original recipe. Wherever it's origin, it's a winner. I've always used pecans in Snowballs. European based versions of this recipe often use hazelnuts, walnuts or almonds. Snowballs are really simple to make, yet they have such a wonderful flavor and texture. It's clear why they're a much loved favorite around the world.
In my family, Snowballs are particular favorites of King-Man and our son Bracken. Now that Bracken lives in Boston, I send he and his wife, Rachel, a batch of Snowball Cookies in their Christmas box each year. These are great cookies to mail, because they are sturdy enough to hold up well in transit. And, they are actually better a few days after they're baked; so the travel time only improves their flavor and texture.
These pretty little cookies add a festive touch to holiday cookie platters. I always include these along with my Toffee and Sour Cream Sugar Cookies when we deliver Christmas treats to neighbors and friends.
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
Step 2. No creaming of butter or adding ingredients in a specific order is required. Simply put everything but the nuts into a bowl, and mix on a low speed until combined. (The mixture should be in moist crumbs that will hold together when pressed.) Then fold in chopped nuts, maintaining the moist crumb consistency. I used a stand mixer, but a handheld mixer will work, too. You can blend the mixture by hand with a pastry blender if you don't own a mixer.
Step 3. Roll or scoop walnut size balls of cookie dough. To maintain a light texture, don't over work or compact the dough too much. Form the balls just tightly enough that the dough holds it's round shape. I prefer to use a small scoop for quick, even, perfectly shaped cookies. Arrange cookies on parchment paper or a silicone mat on a large baking sheet. My 13x18" baking sheet holds a full batch of these cookies.
Step 4. Bake the cookies just until you see a few of them begin to brown ever-so-slightly. Mine bake for 18 minutes.
Step 5. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, and while they're still warm, roll them in powdered sugar. Set them on a rack until completely cooled. (I place my rack inside a baking sheet to contain the powdered sugar mess.)
view on Amazon: cooling rack (it fits perfectly inside a 13x18 baking sheet)
Step 6. When the cookies have completely cooled, roll them in powdered sugar a second time.
Even better the next day. Many cookies are best eaten freshly baked. But, Snowballs taste even better a day or two or three after they're baked. Both the flavor and texture improve. That makes these a great make-ahead cookie.
Freezable. You can also freeze these; after all, they are SNOWballs! Roll them again in powdered sugar after they're thawed to restore their appearance, if necessary.
I love the texture of these cookies. They're tender and crumbly on the inside, with that awesome double layer of powdered sugar on the outside. Keep a napkin handy when you eat them. They're messy to eat, but in the best possible way! It's no wonder that these are loved all over the world.
Make it a Yummy day!