It’s about that time of year again when I throw caution to the wind and forget all my resolutions to eat and be healthy and refocus my attention on cookies instead. It’s the time when I indulge in nostalgia and buy extra sugar, flour, and butter, casually forgetting how I told myself maybe it would be best not to have much of these things in the house. When the holidays roll around, all bets are off. (And I’m easily swayed by the manipulative world of the Food Network telling me that eating indulgent food will improve the quality of my life.)
We kicked off the season with this recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Ganache Cookies. The list of cookies to bake is long, however, and today I’m posting the recipe for my absolute favorite Christmas cookie of all time. The hand-written recipe card at my mom’s house calls them “Russian Tea Cakes.” You may have also had something like this called a “Mexican Wedding Cookie” or something similar to what my mother-in-law makes which she calls “Austrian Crescent Cookies.” In any case, if every culture has their own version of this cookie, then you know it must be pretty good. Call them whatever you like – I just call them Snowball Cookies.
As per usual, I feel that I owe an apology for this picture. I actually took these photos last Christmas and have been wanting to post them since then, but I never got around to it. I considered refraining from posting them simply because I wasn’t happy with the pics, but maybe I’ll retake them some day. Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two about ISO (this picture is extremely grainy because my ISO is set SUPER high to accommodate for the relative lack of light). I have also acquired a tripod which makes it possible for me to shoot at a slower shutter speed to accommodate for the lack of light instead of jacking up the ISO. So there you have it. Hopefully my photos of the future will be better than my photos of the past. I learn slowly, but at least I learn…
So far this year, I haven’t made any actual Christmas cookies. I did make a really delicious brown butter chocolate chip oatmeal cookie this week, however, inspired by a recipe for Brown Butter Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies found on the cookie-mecca website, Two Peas and Their Pod. I don’t know why I would make a non-Christmas cookie in December, but I don’t regret it. They were amazing.
These cookies have a few admirable qualities. Most notably, the texture is perfect, especially when they’re fresh. They’re delicate and crumbly in a melt-in-your-mouth kind of way. The dough itself doesn’t contain any sugar, so the only sweetness comes from the powdered sugar coating which leaves them just the right amount of sweet and gives you control over how sweet you want them to be. If you prefer less sweetness, you can skip the second roll in powdered sugar. (However, they are definitely much prettier after two rolls… )
When it comes to Christmas cookie baking, I’m big on variety. I know some people want to make 30 dozen of their favorite cookie. I’d be happy with twelve of 100 different kinds. This recipe, however, is the one in my recipe box that as a little “*double” note on it, and I always obey. One batch simply isn’t adequate.
One of the painful truths I’m being forced to face as an adult in the world is that I won’t have time to eat every cookie (or read every book) before I die. (And unfortunately, the more cookies I eat, the sooner I’ll probably get to that end point … yikes. Another brutal truth.)
In light of these unfortunate realities, I shall continue to enjoy the cookies I know I love and hopefully try a few new ones along the way, but I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!!
Sweet and delicate little balls of joy perfect for Christmas!
- 1 c butter, softened
- 1/2 c powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/4 c all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 c finely chopped walnuts
- Extra powdered sugar for rolling
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Step 2 Mix butter, 1/2 c powdered sugar, and vanilla in mixer until smooth.
- Step 3 Mix in flour, salt, and nuts until dough holds together.
- Step 4 Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set but not brown, about 10-12 minutes.
- Step 5 Roll in powdered sugar as soon as cookies are cool enough to handle but still warm from the oven. Allow to cool, then roll in powdered sugar again.