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How to Make Snowball Cookies

Snowball cookies, aka Mexican wedding cookies, are an all-time favorite Christmas treat. Round, bite-sized butter cookies with chopped nuts, rolled in powdered sugar to give them a snowy whiteness, are an epitome of winter holiday magic. What sets this cookie apart from other Christmas cookies? Traditionally, its recipe does not feature eggs and uses powdered instead of regular sugar.

Part of what makes snowball cookies so fantastic is that you can make a myriad of variations on a recipe by adding different nuts, spices, extracts, candies, cocoa, and anything else your heart desires. At their most basic, these treats come together with just a few pantry-staple ingredients: butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, flour, salt, and chopped nuts.

How to Make Snowball Cookies

Making snowball cookies is very easy. All you have to do is chop toasted nuts in a blender or food processor and then stir together the dough in a mixing bowl. You can use walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or any other nuts you like. Mix in a pinch of ground cinnamon and cardamom, add orange or lemon zest if you like, or some cocoa powder if you’re into chocolatey treats. You can also give your cookies a holiday-worthy flavor of peppermint by chopping a candy cane in a food processor and adding the dust to the dough and then rolling the ready and cooled cookies in it, as well. Or add some peppermint extract. The world is your oyster.

To get your creative baking juices flowing, here are three variations for snowball cookies to try.

Holiday Snowballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 bottles sparkly white decorating glitter

Instructions:

  1. Start with preheating the oven to 325 °F.
  2. Cream butter with ¼ cup powdered sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and water and beat until homogenous. Next, fold in flour, pecans, and salt and mix until just combined.
  3. Form little balls from the cookie dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
  4. Bake until the cookies are set, about 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mix the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and one bottle of decorating glitter together on a plate. Empty the second bottle of decorating glitter onto a different plate.
  6. Once done, remove the snowball cookies from the oven and let them cool. Finally, roll them first in the powdered sugar mixture and then in the decorating sugar.

Spiced Mexican Wedding Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 5 ½ oz (155 g) pecan halves
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp ground cayenne
  • 8 oz (225 g) butter
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Toast the nuts in a skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely before processing them into fine dust.
  2. Combine flour, chopped nuts, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and ½ cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, before adding vanilla.
  4. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
  5. Form the dough into a disc and wrap it in cling film. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl.
  7. Scoop out a tablespoon of the dough at a time and form it into a ball. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about an inch apart.
  8. Bake for 8 minutes before rotating the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the tops of the cookies are set, 7 minutes more.
  9. Place the baking sheets on wire racks and let the cookies cool there for 10 minutes. While still warm, coat the cookies in powdered sugar. Let cool completely, then coat again.

Chocolate Mexican Wedding Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ⅔ cup flour
  • 4 oz (115 g) pecan halves
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp fine salt
  • ⅛ tsp ground cayenne
  • 8 oz (225 g) butter
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Combine flour, toasted and finely chopped pecans, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and ½ cup powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, before adding vanilla.
  3. Gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the butter mixture.
  4. Form the dough into a disc and wrap it in cling film. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar in a shallow bowl.
  6. Scoop out a tablespoon of the dough at a time and form it into a ball. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about an inch apart.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes before rotating the baking sheets between racks and from front to back. Bake until the tops of the cookies are set, 7 minutes more.
  8. Place the baking sheets on wire racks and let the cookies cool there for 10 minutes. While still warm, coat the cookies in powdered sugar. Let cool completely, then coat again.

Snowball cookies are a perfect dessert for the holidays! What is your go-to Christmas cookie? Please tell us in the comments section below — we’d love to know! Have a wonderful holiday season!

Valerie

I am an English major with a love of languages and fiction, and with an incurable travel bug. In my free time, I read fantasy, drink copious amounts of coffee, and like to go see movies. Culinary art means everything to me. My main hypostasis is the taster, though. The music school has taught me to appreciate the symphony of airy meringues, to create harmonious overtures of light snacks, hard rock of meat, fish, and vegetables on the grill. Choir classes have accustomed me to hear and feel the people nearby and create perfect harmonies of sounds.

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