Finely chopped nuts and powdered sugar are the star ingredients of these rich but delicate yuletide treats.
It’s snowing here in New Jersey, and I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned, any snow that falls during the month of December is considered Christmas Snow. It doesn’t have to be as accurate as to fall on the day itself, although that did happen during the first Christmas Eve we spent in our home the year we were married. I still remember standing at the door watching it fall softly on the lamppost in the front yard, still in disbelief that we were owners of a lamppost, much less a whole house where we had just hosted Christmas Eve dinner like grownups.
The snow today inspired me to crank out some Christmas cookies. I decided to be as clichéd as possible and make snowball cookies in honor of the occasion. My great grandmother, who was a little over four feet tall and lived to be a hundred years old, made these at Christmas along with her anisette pizzelle, antipast, artichokes, meatballs, and many other specialties containing olive oil and garlic. I remember her fingers, cramped with arthritis, still deftly mixing up the batter for the pizzelle while chatting away. She, like all Italian women I’m pretty sure, loved to feed people and was always happily reporting on how we kids had grown. “Soon you’re going to be eating spaghetti from the top of my head!” she’d wave her hand and say. We carry her spirit in our hearts and kitchens.
So here are Grandma B’s Snowball Cookies. They are rich but delicate and so easy to make. May they find their way into your holiday traditions.
Christmas Snowball Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped walnuts or pecans
½ cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325˚. Combine all ingredients except powdered sugar in a bowl. Use your hands to press and squeeze until it comes together (it will be a little crumbly...don’t worry it all works out).
Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes until set but not brown. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes, then roll in powdered sugar. Makes about 4 dozen.
Every house needs a grandmother in it.