Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Snowball Cookies

Although I've seen these cookies called Italian Wedding cookies, Mexican Wedding cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Greek Kourambiedes, and butterballs, it's a snow day here so I'm celebrating by callingn these little guys "Snowball Cookies."
I love these cookies in the winter. They're a little soft, a little crumbly, a little sweet, and a little nutty. They're simple to make and use very few ingredients, and they are easily modified to fit your personal flavors and tastes.

Your recipe starts, like many cookie recipes, with softened butter.

With your butter go your flavorings. I went with vanilla and almond extracts.
Almond extract just has such a great smell. I always associate it with holiday cookies, especially butter cookies like spritz.

Be careful not to add too much. Almond extract is very pungent.
After your butter and sugar have been creamed together, it's time for flour and powdered sugar. I add them in two additions.

Now your batter is ready for some nuts. My original recipe called for walnuts, but I was short on walnuts. They're not my favorite nut and I don't always have them on hand. Today I did, but I didn't have quite the full amount the recipe called for. So I topped off my measuring cup with pecans.

I've made these cookies with all pecans before, and all almonds. I'm sure macadamia nuts or hazelnuts would bring something to the table too.

I ground mine in a food processor; if you like your cookies a little more "lumpy", you could grind them for a shorter period of time, chop them with a knife, or pour them into a Ziploc baggie and smash them with a can or a rolling pin.
Add the nuts in and stir gently. You don't want to overmix your cookie dough.

At the very end, add a dash of milk (or other liquid--brandy would be really, really nice about now.) This will help your cookies hold together.

You should have a nice, nutty, moist, but not too moist, dough.

Roll your dough into small, 1-inch balls, and place them on a greased cookie sheet a couple inches apart from one another. I was able to fit 15 cookies onto a single cookie sheet. And this recipe made 35 cookies.
Bake your cookies for 12-14 minutes.

Once they've come out of the oven, I like to let them cool for about five minutes. Just enough time to let them firm up a bit, so they don't fall apart when I touch them, and to cool down so I won't burn myself.

When the cookies are still warm, I let them frolic in a bowl of powdered sugar.

The sugar melts a little bit, sticking to the cookie and adding another layer of flavor.

Once they've fully cooled, I sometimes let them go through the powdered sugar again. Just so they get a fresh coat.

I love these cookies with a cup of something hot--whether it be tea, coffee, hot cider, or some nice cocoa. They also make a great Christmas gift, and if you've got kids who like to help in the kitchen, these cookies are easy enough for even the smallest child. Don't be afraid of your snow days...embrace them!

Recipe: Snowball Cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. salt (see note in recipe)

2 c. flour
2/3 c. powdered sugar

1 c. chopped nuts

1 tbsp. liquid (milk, liquer, cream, etc.)

Powdered sugar, for dusting (~1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Whip butter and extracts together until completely creamed together. If using unsalted butter, add 1 tsp. salt.

Add flour and powdered sugar in two additions (1 c. flour, 1/3 c. powdered sugar).

Add chopped nuts.

Add liquid, stirring gently until just incorporated.

Roll cookies into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned.

Pull cookies from oven. Allow cookies to rest for 5 minutes. Roll slightly cooled cookies in powdered sugar; then place on baking rack. Once cookies have cooled completely, roll again in sugar, if desired.


  1. Definitely need to bookmark this when I get to my home computer. Friends of the family have a gyro tent at the local summer festivals and they sold the Kourambiedes (except I couldn't remember the name) and that was what I always got when the grandma packed up desserts for our family. I have been craving these for I don't even know how long. Thank you!!!!

  2. How do I print this recipe?