As I’ve mentioned before, no one cooked in my family while I was growing up. We had a very small handful of “family recipes” that were rarely cooked. The rest of the time, it was all about meals of convenience. I grew to love the ladies in the Carl’s Jr drive through.
And while I hate to point fingers buuuuuut my grandma was typically the worst cook of them all. And she actually liked cooking; she just stunk at doing it.
Like the time she microwaved a Wendy’s cheeseburger inside of its foil wrapper. I warned her that foil + microwave = flammable disaster, but she continued to microwave that death trap until it exploded into a predictable burst of char-grilled burger flames.
Or the time she brought us a plate of marshmallow brownies. I distinctly remember opening the door and seeing the paper plate filled with gooey, marshmallow-studded brownies and I could actually feel my eyes light up like a cartoon character. As I took a bite, anticipating the sweet, luscious goo from the marshmallow pockets, I was instantly greeted with a terrible punch in the taste buds that contorted my face into the most hideous expression imaginable that mimicked the pain I was feeling all over. That wasn’t marshmallow — it was sour cream. And grandma, bless her terrible-chef heart, neglected to stir the sour cream into the batter properly, leaving pockets of the rancid tang throughout the precious brownies.
Not to mention the countless rolls that have been torched, cookies that turned Cajun, and grilled cheese sandwiches that were topped with *shudder* mayonnaise. Like, I’m still scarred.
HOWEVER. Grandma did do something right, and that was her Snowball Cookies. In our house, we call them Snowballs, but you may know them as Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cookies. Same difference! They’re all irresistibly tender pecan cookies rolled in powdered sugar and they taste like heaven. And if we’re being honest, they’re actually my favorite cookie ever. Like, ever-ever. I could eat an entire batch without so much blinking, they’re that much of a favorite to me! And Christmas isn’t Christmas without them.
While this is not my grandma’s recipe (frankly, she hasn’t made her cookies in years and I think it’s probably from a magazine), it is my favorite Snowball Cookie recipe EVER. It yields the most tender, melt-in-your-mouth, divine cookies, studded with pecans and a hint of vanilla in every bite. It makes a little over two dozen, which is excellent if you’re gifting them off (and not so much if you’re eating them all like me). You can also adapt these to make them more personalized, like by using more cinnamon inside to spice them up, adding a hint of orange zest, or rolling them in cocoa powder instead. The choice is yours!
Just… don’t use sour cream. That’s simply unforgivable.
*recreated from this recipe from my archives
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ⅛ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch cinnamon
- 2 cups ground pecans (I use Diamond of California Pecan Bits, then grind them further)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Powdered sugar
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, white and brown sugars until fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla and cinnamon to combine. Lastly, add in the ground pecans and the flour until the dough comes together. The dough may be crumbly; that's okay -- just try your best to bring everything together into one soft, cohesive dough.
- Using a cookie dough scoop, roll Tablespoon-sized balls of dough and place them about 1" apart on the baking sheets. Bake for approx. 10-13 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure an even cook. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets for about 10 minutes or until cooler to the touch. Immediately roll the cookies into powdered sugar to coat, and place the cookies to finish cooling on a wire rack.
- Once cookies are cooled, send them through another light roll in the powdered sugar for a second coat. Then serve! Cookies can be stored airtight at room temperature for up to a week.
I cannot reiterate how MUCH I LOVE these cookies! You won’t find a recipe for cookies this tender, soft, or perfectly spiced anywhere else! I hope you enjoy!