Snowballs (aka Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Butterballs)

January 12, 2013

snowball cookies

Buttery, tender and delicate, these snowy melt-in-your-mouth cookies get their light sweetness and powdery coating from twice being rolled in powdered sugar. I have made snowball cookies every year at Christmas for many years. Almost everyone I know loves them (except my husband!), so I often make them for other occasions such as birthdays, pot lucks, or as gifts throughout the year. I’ve always referred to them as Snowballs, but the same basic recipe, with slight variations, is also known by many other names and in many other countries, including Russia, Mexico and Greece. The variety of nuts used can also vary, but most commonly used is pecans. I almost always make mine without nuts though, which is unusual. Even though I make these at Christmas, a friend always gives me some as a gift, and I absolutely love hers. They are larger than mine and have lovely bits of pecans in a tender, buttery dough.

My recipe card, written out when I was in high school. 
snowball cookies recipe

Assemble your ingredients.
snowball cookies

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
snowball cookies

Gradually add the flour and mix until dough holds together in large clumps. 
snowball cookies

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets. 
snowball cookies

Bake until cookies are lightly browned on the bottom.
snowball cookies

Roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar. 
snowball cookies

Roll until cookies are evenly coated with powdered sugar.
snowball cookies

Allow cookies to cool completely before rolling them in powdered sugar a second time. 
snowball cookies

snowball cookies

Snowball Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
½ cup plus 1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2¼ cups unbleached flour (or 2¼ cups gluten-free baking blend plus ½ teaspoon xanthan gum – see below for recipe)
¾ cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400°.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and ½ cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add water and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour and mix until the dough holds together in large clumps. Mix in the nuts. Chill dough for 30 minutes.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place 1 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are very lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Place remaining 1 cup powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll warm cookies, 4 or 5 at a time, in powdered sugar until they are evenly coated. Place cookies on counter or cool baking sheet to cool completely. When completely cool, roll again in powdered sugar. Store cookies, tightly covered, for up to two weeks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Gluten-free Baking Blend:
4 cups Authentic Foods Superfine Brown Rice Flour (I highly recommend this brand. It doesn’t have the gritty texture that is common in most rice flours)
1 1/3 cups potato starch (not potato flour)
2/3 cup tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Deborah Dean October 9, 2015 at 6:33 pm

Thanks for this one Missy. I have lost it through the years, and many substitutes, are not quite as good or easy. Enjoy your weekend. dd

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