Pecan Snowball cookies are rich, soft, nutty, airy and full of toasted pecans. These mildly sweet buttery shortbreads are one of the must have recipe for the holidays.
Pecan Snowball Cookies
We are kick starting holiday season with these festive recipe. They are also known as Pecan snowball cookies, Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, tea cakes or butter balls. It looks festive in winter months resembling mounds of snow balls.
A couple things that set this recipe apart from others include the absence of egg and the use of powdered instead of granulated sugar in the dough. The result is a light, crumbly ball that dissolves almost the second it hits your tongue.
Why You'll Love This Recipe?
- Only 5 ingredients - Uses basic pantry staples along with pecans.
- Mildly sweet - Although these tea cakes are covered in powdered sugar, they do not taste very sweet.
- Easy recipe - Made in one bowl and you don't any special cutters.
- Perfect for Holidays- These look festive and make a perfect addition for gift giving.
- Tastes amazing - Has a rich buttery, nutty flavor with melt in your mouth texture.
What are snowball cookies?
They are made with part butter, part flour, and part confectioners’ sugar. Some recipes contain nuts like pecans. There are no eggs or leavening agents in traditional snowball recipes. Confectioners sugar is used to make the dough as well as coating cooled ones, which give them a snow ball look. Hence the name!
How to Toast Pecans?
Spread pecans on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Remove tray from oven, place on a wire rack and let cool completely.
How to Grind Pecans?
Ground pecans give these nutty flavor and crumbly texture. We like to grind the nuts in a food processor until it looks finely chopped but make sure that they don't become a powder. If you have a food processor, then place them in a zip lock bag and smash with a mallet or the back of heavy skillet until you don't see any big chunks. It can also be simply chopped with a knife.
- Butter - Use good quality unsalted butter if possible
- All purpose flour - We used unbleached all purpose flour
- Confectioners sugar - Do not use regular granulated sugar.
- Pecans - Use toasted pecans. It adds a wonderful nuttiness to the ball.
- Flavorings - Vanilla extract and salt
- Use room temperature unsalted butter. Softened butter will cream together with the powdered sugar much more easily.
- Confectioners sugar is the same as powdered sugar found in grocery stores.
- Chop the nuts very fine (I prefer processing them in a mini food processor but don't make them powdery).
- Pull the snowballs out of the oven when the bottoms have browned but the tops are still pale in color.
- Tossing the snowballs in powdered sugar TWICE is key. Toss them once while still warm so that the powdered sugar starts to kind of seep into the cake. Then a second time once cooled!
- If the dough is too firm after chilling to roll into balls, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, or until it softens up.
- Replace pecans with other type of nuts like chopped raw pistachios, cashews, walnuts, toasted almonds.
- Replace butter with ghee.
- Mix in mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate chips to the dough.
HOW TO MAKE?
These are very easy to make with powdered sugar- Cream butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract and salt, until creamy. Mix in flour and chopped toasted pecans to form a dough. Chill dough for about 30 minutes or until slightly firm.
Pinch pecan balls dough into a tablespoon measure balls, bake at 350 degrees, until the bottom is deep golden brown. Cool for about 5 minutes.
Roll warm snowballs in confectioners sugar, cool and roll again.
How to Store?
Room temperature - Snowballs can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.
- Baked cookies (without sugar coating) - Can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- Baked cookies (with sugar coating) - Place them in a baking sheet and freeze until hard, then transfer them to a sealed freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
To thaw - Remove frozen ones out of the container and place them on a plate (in a single layer) and let come to room temperature (uncovered). You can roll them in more powdered sugar to give them a fresh look.
Dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator and then at room temperature to shape into balls.
How to package them for gift giving during Christmas? I like to place each one in a mini cupcake liner, which not makes a pretty presentation, but also is less messy.
Frequently asked questions
Powdered sugar contains a portion of cornstarch which helps them retain a round shape after baking. So, using regular white granulated sugar might flatten them while baking.
They are good for about a week stored at room temperature or frozen for up to 3 months.
More Cookies for Holidays:
- Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies
- Cashew Wedding Cookies
- Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Cardamom Shortbread Cookies
Pecan Snowball Cookies
- Add butter, ¼ cup confectioners sugar, vanilla extract and salt into a medium bowl and beat with a hand held electric beater for about 2 minutes or creamy.
- Add all purpose flour continue beating, until the dough comes together (begin slow and build to medium). Mix in chopped pecans.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days). If chilling for more than 30 minutes, let dough sit at room temperature for at least an hour before rolling into balls.
- Pre heat oven to 350°F (177°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll about 1 tablespoon measure dough into a smooth ball and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about an inch apart.
- Bake cookies until golden brown on the bottom edges but barely brown on top, about 17 to 20 minutes.
- Place baking pan on a wire rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Place remaining confectioners sugar in a shallow bowl, gently roll warm cookies in the confectioners sugar to coat on all sides. Place them on a plate to cool completely.
- Roll them again in confectioners sugar when cooled (this will ensure that the sugar sticks).
To toast Pecans-
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place pecans on a baking sheet. Toast until browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in a zip lock bag for up to a week.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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