The ultimate Christmas cookie, these Snowball Cookies with toasted pecans are a melt-in-your-mouth buttery shortbread coated in powdered sugar. Perfect for a holiday gift or sweet treat at your next party.
By now my freezer is starting to get pretty full of Christmas.
With Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies, Chocolate Truffles, and Eggnog Cheesecake Thumbprints, it’s looking pretty sweet. And now it is time to make room for more. I’ve got one of my favorite Christmas cookies of ALL-TIME today, these Snowball Cookies, aka Mexican Wedding Cookies.
I grew up with these cookies every Christmas. My mom would make a big batch early in December and freeze them so that we could enjoy them slowly throughout the Christmas Season. Despite all the sugar and chocolates of other cookies, I always went for the soft, buttery, melt-in-your mouth, Snowball Cookie.
What is a Snowball Cookie?
Snowball Cookies are a cookie with many names. They are commonly referred to as Mexican Wedding Cookies. Growing up, at my house we called them Sandies. They can also be called Russian Tea Cakes, Pecan Balls, or Pecan Melt-aways. While there are subtle differences between some of these cookies (such as the type of sugar used), this cookie is a buttery shortbread cookie that is filled with finely nuts – usually pecans – rolled into a ball and covered in powdered sugar.
So while the rest of the world figures out a name for them, I figure we ought to whip up a batch to enjoy!
The Ingredients in a Snowball/Russian Tea Cake/Mexican Wedding Cookie
The ingredient list for these cookies is small. They have:
- Vanilla Extract
- Pecans (or Hazelnuts)
That’s it! As always, when working with such few ingredients, it’s important that we use the highest quality. For that reason, I suggest using Miyoko’s cultured vegan butter for this recipe. This award winning vegan butter is truly the best vegan butter on the market. It’s taste and texture is identical to dairy-based butter and will give you the complete melt-in-your mouth feel of these cookies.
If you can’t find Miyoko’s butter at your local grocery stores, I would suggest Earth Balance as the next best alternative. Or you could just pick up a copy of her cookbook, and make your own incredible vegan butter.
You also want to think about sugars when picking out the ingredients for this Snowball Cookie. These cookies have both granulated sugar and powdered sugar. I am commonly asked, especially around this time of year, if sugar is vegan. So commonly, in fact, that I wrote a comprehensive guide to answer that question.
For this recipe, and most of my baking, I choose to buy Wholesome Sweetener’s products. Not only are of Wholesome Sweeteners sugars are vegan, that’s including their powdered sugar and brown sugar, they are also organic, fair trade, and 100% identical to non-vegan sugars.
Lastly, we want to make sure we have high quality nuts.
The most common choice of nut for these cookies is pecans. Pecans are soft, have full flavor, and pair perfectly with the butteriness of this cookie. However, I have also made these cookies commonly with hazelnuts and almonds. Whichever you choose, make sure to get the freshest, highest quality.
Now that we have our ingredients picked out, it’s time to make these Snowball Cookies
How to Make Snowball Cookies
These cookies are very simple to make.
To start, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla extract in a stand-up mixer until the butter is light and fluffy. Next, add the flour and mix until it’s just combined. Finally, add your finely chopped nut. This is often done best by hand.
The cookies are then shaped into balls about 2 tablespoons big and placed on the baking sheet. Bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes at 300 until the cookies are set up. To check for doneness, cut a cookie in half. The cookie should be fairly crumbly but not soft.
Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before placing them in a large ziplock bag with powdered sugar to coat.
That’s it! So easy.
Tips and Trick for making the PERFECT Snowball.
- Use high quality ingredients, especially when choosing your butter.
- Start with cold butter for the cookie to keep it’s shape while baking.
- Do not over-mix the batter. Mix it until the flour is just incorporated as to not developed too much gluten.
- Bake a a low temperature. We want these cookies to bake on the inside fully for their shortbread texture.
- Let cookies cool completely before coating them in powdered sugar. If the cookies are still warm, the sugar will melt.
- Store cooking in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a stand up mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream vegan butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the flour and mix until combined.
- Mix in the finely chopped pecans. You may need to finish folding the hazelnuts in by hand as some of the nuts get stuck in the bottom of the bowl.
Roll dough in balls about 1 heaping tbsp big. Place on baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness by cutting one in half to ensure that it's cooked all the way through. Transfer cookies onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Place powdered sugar in a large zip lock bag with about 6 cookies at a time. Shake it around until cookies are completely coated. Repeat until all cookies are coated.
Serve or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Cookies can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months.
If you give this recipe a try, let us know what you think in the comments below. Or snap a photo and share it on Instagram. Make sure to tag @mydarlingvegan so I can see your creations!