Lots of sweet pecans. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies. And all that light and fluffy confectioners’ sugar around the outsides. What else could I be talking about than Snowball Cookies! These are the only cookies I’ve had every Christmas that I can remember and the only cookies I am required to bring for family celebrations. It’s not Christmas without them.
I guess they’ve fallen out of favor since their heyday, but you wouldn’t know it from my family. They may not be a trendy, popular cookie. Instead, they are a classic! Growing up we called them Russian Tea Cakes or Italian Wedding Cookies, but these days I like to call them Snowballs since that is what they look like, and that makes them even more appropriate for winter time. Though after getting over 100 inches of snow over the course of a month last year I’m rather hoping that these are the only Snowballs I see this year! 🙂
Of course, I have made a few changes to the recipe since I used to make them as a girl. A little cornstarch for softness – just a little though, since you don’t want these cookies too soft! Grinding the nuts finely to give them a more tender texture while also keeping them from getting too dry. And I use superfine sugar since it makes for a more delicate cookie. All I know is they disappear every year!
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Pecan Snowball Cookies
- 2 cups pecans
- 2 cups 10 oz all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 sticks 8 oz unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup 2 1/2 oz superfine sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Pulse pecans in a food processor a few times until they are fairly finely chopped. Pour out half the nuts into a large bowl and then continue processing the rest until they are the texture of cornmeal, 20 seconds. Pour out the rest of the nuts into the bowl. Add flour, salt, and cornstarch to the bowl and mix well.
- With a hand mixer or with a stand mixer using the flat beater, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and continue beating until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat it in, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
- Pour in the flour and pecan mixture and beat on low until almost all the flour is mixed in. Then shut off the mixer and mix in the last bits by hand with the spatula. You should have a smooth dough with no uncombined flour. If it's still a little shaggy, give it another turn or two with the spatula.
- To measure out the cookies I highly recommend using a #100 cookie scoop. It holds 2 teaspoons and makes the work fly by, as well as giving exactly even amounts. Just scoop out the dough, filling the scoop evenly, and release it onto the cookie sheet. Alternatively, measure out 2 teaspoons of dough at a time, roll it in your hands until it's round and arrange the cookies onto the cookie sheet.
- Bake cookies for 13 minutes. When done, remove the cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Once the cookies are fully cooled, roll them in confectioners' sugar and arrange them on a plate.