Although known by many names, Pecan Snowballs are a classic treat, blending simple ingredients for a melt-in-your-mouth cookie experience! Pecan Snowballs are sophisticated enough to serve on any holiday party platter, yet simple enough to make in just one bowl – no mixer required. We’re going old-school today with this timeless cookie favorite!
I’ve never met someone who didn’t love these cookies. Nobody really knows what to call these addictive little cookies, but once you say the ones rolled in powdered sugar, everyone knows what you are talking about! Mama always calls them Lady Fingers because she would roll them into a finger-like shape, but that’s not to be confused with the spongy lady fingers found in tiramisu. I have seen recipes which refer to them as Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, and even Nutty Fingers. Moral of the story: whichever name you choose, they are going to be delicious.
Pecan Snowballs start with one of my favorite ingredients: butter! I highly recommend using a European-style butter which has more fat and flavor. Try Land O’ Lakes European-Style Super Premium, which has excellent flavor for a reasonable price. Your butter needs to be room temperature before you start baking. I usually just remove the butter from the fridge and leave it on counter either the night before, or in the morning before I leave for work. Then, once you are ready to bake, your butter is soft enough to start mixing. Please resist the urge to soften butter in the microwave; it doesn’t melt evenly and 95% of the time, the butter ends up way too soft. That’s bad cookie juju.
Next, using your hands, simply mix together the softened butter, flour, granulated sugar, vanilla, and chopped pecans. Why pecans? You can certainly use different nuts, but pecans yield the best flavor, not to mention they are the only nut native to the South! For the pecans, be sure and finely chop them. They don’t stick together very well if the pecan chunks are too big. I use a Proctor Silex 72500RY 1-1/2-Cup Food Chopper to get the nuts finely chopped. It’s great for nuts, pimentos, and any other small batch type things.
The secret to these cookies is rolling them TWICE in powdered sugar while they are still warm from the oven. Once I scoop them off the cookie sheet, I let them rest for just a minute to cool, them immediately dump them into powdered sugar. Be sure and cover every little nook and cranny of the cookies, then transfer to a plate to cool even more. Once the cookies have cooled slightly for a second time (about 5 minutes) I put them back into the powdered sugar for a nice dusting. Yes, powdered sugar will be everywhere. Don’t wear black pants while eating these cookies!
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar (for rolling the cookies)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place powdered sugar in a bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl using your hands, mix together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, flour, and chopped pecans until the mixtures is no longer sticky. This will take several minutes.
- Once the dough comes together, pinch off small amounts of dough and roll into small balls, "finger" shapes, or crescents, and place onto a baking sheet lined with a silicon baking or parchment paper. (Otherwise, just use an ungreased baking sheet).
- Pop into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Allow to rest for 2 minutes.
- Remove cookies from pan and dump them into bowl of powdered sugar and coat. Set cookies aside, let them cool a few more minutes, then dump them back into the bowl of powdered sugar for a second coating.**
These cookies remind me of home. I think of Mama’s kitchen, Christmastime, and Uncle Ben eating half the plate then fussing that his jeans are tight. I hope you and your family will enjoy making these cookies together this holiday season! Merry Christmas!