Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowball Cookies

Also known as Pecan Butterballs, Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies, Russian Teacakes. These divine concoctions of ground pecans, confectioner's sugar, butter and flour are irresistible. Fragile and crumbly, yes, but buttery, rich and nutty with that airy coating of 10x pulverized sugar, they beg to be devoured.

Of course, now my kitchen looks as though a hot-air balloon filled with confectioner's sugar collided with a grove of pecan trees, but hey, it's Christmas!

Snowball Cookies

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped very fine or ground in a food processor
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar for dusting and rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Toast the pecans first. Place whole or halved pecans on an ungreased sheet pan and toast in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring a few times until the nuts are light brown and fragrant. Don't let them burn.

  3. Let cool in a bowl and set aside. Grind them in a food processor when they have cooled.

  4. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with vegetable shortening spray, or do what I do and place your Silpat baking mat on the sheet.

  5. Using a stand mixer or heavy duty hand mixer with the beater attachment, beat butter on medium to high speed about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Make sure that there are no clumps of butter.

  6. Add the confectioner's sugar and beat again, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently.

  7. Add the vanilla extract and salt and beat again.

  8. Turn the mixer to low. Slowly and carefully, add the flour and ground pecans to the mixing bowl 1 cup at a time, scraping the bowl after every addition. It should go without saying, but remember to turn off the mixer when you scrape the bowl!

  9. By now, the mixer will have started to slow down. Don't over mix, just mix only until the dry ingredients are blended.

  10. Using a cookie scoop, ice cream scoop or teaspoon, measure out a 1-inch piece of cookie batter, and roll them between your palms, shaping them into 1-inch balls.

  11. Place on prepared pans leaving a little room between cookies to allow for spreading.

  12. Bake in 350 degree over for 14 minutes or until cookies are almost firm and the edges are slightly browned. Let them cool just enough to handle.

  13. Measure out 1 cup of confectioners' sugar into a large bowl. Sift the sugar if necessary to remove all lumps.

  14. Working with about 5 - 6 warm cookies at a time, roll them in the bowl of confectioner's sugar until they're completely coated. Place on a clean parchment covered cookie sheet.

  15. When the cookies are all coated, start over again, and roll them in powdered sugar a second time. Shake off excess and place on cookies sheets.

  16. Yields about 4 dozen cookies.

  • I like to place these in mini-muffin papers.

  • If the butter hasn't all been whipped up, some of the cookies will spread out a bit when cooking. They still taste great.

  • I always seem to make an unholy mess with the confectioner's sugar every time I make these. I think I saw one recipe that called for you to fill a brown paper bag with the sugar and putting the cookies in there a few at a time and gently tossing them around in the bag. It might be worth a try.

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