Thursday, December 22, 2011

Evie's Snowball Cookies

No doubt over the last few weeks you've been binging on holiday cookies--or at least recipes for them. I studiously avoided adding to the glut. But here it is approaching New Year's Eve and all I can think about are the beautiful snowball cookies I grew up with.

You may have seen variations on these. I've seen them called alternately Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cookies. In our home, they were snowballs--and why not, what with the double dipping of these spheres into powder sugar.

These cookies are addictive, mostly because they're not overly sweet. Yes, they're coated in powder sugar, but in the cookie dough itself, there's a mere tablespoon of sugar. The rest is butter, flour, vanilla, a pinch of salt, and toasted nuts (preferably chopped pecans). It's that very classic combination of vanilla, butter, and nuts that is so compelling.

And, they have a classic aura of elegance. They can be dressed up on a pretty plate and be a perfect accompaniment to New Year's Eve champagne.

I've always referred to these as my Nana Tillie's cookies. She regularly packaged them in a shoebox and sent them to me in New York from L.A. with her unusual chocolate bit cookies (chocolate chip squares topped with meringue and walnuts) and rugelach. I lived for their delivery and I always became everybody's best friend at my job on the 33rd floor at The William Morris Agency when they arrived. I have Tillie's handwritten recipe for the snowballs and at the top of the page she attributes it to my cousins' grandmother Ida. But, my mother insists that she actually gave Nana the recipe. So, these are now Evie's Snowball Cookies. Whoever came up with them, all I can say is thank you. They remain my favorite.

Happy New Year!


Evie's Snowball Cookies
(printable recipe here)

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon powder sugar
2 generous tablespoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup chopped, toasted nuts (I prefer pecans but also use walnuts)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups powder sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Cream butter. Add the rest of the ingredients up to the 2 cups of powder sugar. Mix well.
3. Form balls about the size of ping pong balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 30 minutes until just brown.
4. Add the 2 cups of powder sugar to a medium-size bowl. When the cookies come out of the oven, start dunking and rolling in the powder sugar. You'll do this twice. The first round, while they're still hot, is to get the sugar into the cookie. The second roll is for decoration.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Note: Cookies can be frozen before or after baking.

Caron, Nana Tillie, Evie


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