Holiday Treats: Snowballs

by bsherm on December 20, 2010

The Holidays, to me, means excuses for making some of my favorite things. First on this list are Snowballs. I have heard these called all kinds of thing. I sometimes just call them Pecan Balls, but have also heard Russian Tea Cakes and Mexican Wedding Cookies. Growing up, these were Aunt Helen’s specialty. I remember them being called Pfeffernusse, which they absolutely, positively are not. They resemble those traditional German cookies, but do not have any of the spices that cookie requires. For simplicity, I just call them Snowballs now. Again, I have seen many recipes. Folks use Walnuts, Almonds, many kinds of nuts. But the best choice is Pecan, because those other options suck. OK, they suck… in my opinion. Then again it is MY blog.

This cookie has a delicate taste. I like to toast the pecans to turn up the pecan flavor. It makes sense that these are called tea cakes, because these are a great accompaniment to a beverage of some sort. To me, the ideal Snowball disintegrates in your mouth.


  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 65g (1/2 Cup) confection sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 304 g (2 1/4 Cup) Flour
  • 85 g (3/4 Cup) Pecans (Toasted and chopped fine)
  • 100g (approx. 1 Cup) confection sugar for rolling.


#70 Disher yields 42


400 degrees 10-12 minutes (Chill for 1 hour first)


So let’s go through the technique.

  1. Sit butter out to soften. This step is crucial. In fact, starting with softened butter is crucial to every cookie recipe I know.
  2. Toast the pecans and chop them fine. You don’t have to toast the pecans, but it adds an extra level of flavor to the cookies. I toast pecan halves on a sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Let them cool a little, and then chop them fine.
  3. Combine flour, pecans and salt in a bowl. This is the dry team. I like to run a whisk through them to combine.
  4. Beat butter and sugar together. I place the butter in the mixing bowl, and beat until butter is whipped. Add the powdered sugar slowly.
  5. Add Vanilla. Once the butter and sugar are combined, add the vanilla.
  6. Add flour mixture. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until incorporated.
  7. Form dough into ball and chill for 1 hour. This step is the most crucial if you want these to be snowBALLS. Also, I use this as an opportunity to finish combining the ingredients.
  8. After chilling, use #70 disher to portion dough and roll into balls. The disher is a great add. Most have the number stamped on the sweep of the disher.
  9. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. You do not want these to get too brown. If they are just slightly brown, that would be perfect.

  10. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. You want them cool enough to work with, but not totally cool. The warmth helps the powdered sugar stick. Also, if they are not cooled enough, they will crumble in your hand.
  11. Roll balls in powdered sugar and place on cooling rack. This is why it needs to cool a little, because you will be using your hands.
  12. Roll second time after completely cooled. This step is optional, I skip it sometimes, but it gives the total look.

These are my favorite holiday cookie. I look forward to making them every year. They are also part of my Balls ‘O Fun Holiday platter. We will look at the other part of that duo tomorrow.

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