Italian Snowball Cookies

In the world of Christmas cookie baking, these sweet Italian Snowballs stand on a pedestal above all others, in my humble opinion. I used to make them with my Nana, and when we’d roll them into little rounds, the smell of nuts and sugar would fill the kitchen. They’d come freshly baked out of the oven, and while they were still warm, we dipped them in powdered sugar. It would melt ever so slightly, creating a soft, sweet patina on the cookies. Dabs of melted powdery sugar would stick to my fingertips as we put them on the serving tray, one by one.

Italian Snowball cookie

My Nana is gone now, but her yellowed recipe card still remains. What a treasure. She liked to use Brazil nuts, and now I experiment with different nuts; for example, pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts work quite well.  Nana’s recipe collection holds many treasures and memories. I like to think about her filling out the little recipe cards or clipping a favorite out of the newspaper. Very old school, but that’s what makes it so endearing.

For this recipe, I used pecans because, well, ’tis the season!

For other holiday sweets to enjoy, try this holiday cheese board or Rhum Babas or Incredibly easy chocolate cake. 

Italian Snowball cookies

Italian Snowball Cookies

Powdery and sweet, makes for a white Christmas
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 40 cookies more or less

Ingredients
  

  • ¾ cup butter (12 Tbsp.) (170 grams)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups pecans - finely chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (300 grams)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup (or more) powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 ° F
  • In a food processor, pulse nuts until fine. If you don't have a food processor, chop on a cutting board. Set aside
  • Beat together sugar and butter until creamy. Use a hand mixer or beat by hand. Beat in egg and vanilla until uniform and creamy.
  • Sift the salt into the flour, and then, one cup at a time, add the flour to the butter mixture and stir by hand. Take your time and let the flour absorb the butter. Add the rest of the flour and continue to mix by hand until uniform. Fold in the nuts. Again, take your time. The dough may seem a bit dry at first, but given a few minutes, the flour will absorb the butter and will make a smooth dough.
  • Line a cookie tray with parchment paper or grease with butter. Roll the dough into small balls, about 2/3 inch or 1 heaping teaspoon (20 grams per cookie if using a scale). Place the balls on the cookie tray and bake for 20 minutes until light brown. It will make about 50 cookies.
  • Remove cookies from oven and cool until warm. Put the powdered sugar in a bowl and a few at a time, roll the cookies around to coat completely.
  • Serve right away or store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Keyword Christmas, cookies

 

5 thoughts

  1. Ellen,
    Thanks for this post. My Aunt Mary used to make these cookies, and I loved them. Her version used walnuts- possibly because she had a big walnut tree in her yard! I haven’t thought of them in years. I am going to make a batch with my grandkids!

    .

    1. Hi Marie,
      Thanks for the reply! How lovely that you remember making these with your aunt and now you will share that with your grandkids so they will have their own sweet memories. I think these cookies are so simple and so delicious; a perfect treat to make with kids. Auguri di buon Natale!

Your comments are always welcome!