Delight in the timeless taste of Snowball Cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes, a holiday classic that melts in your mouth. These buttery, nutty treats, dusted with powdered sugar, are perfect for sharing the joy of the season.
Fluffy, tender, and lightly sweet - snowball cookies are a classic holiday treat that always disappear fast.
Also known as Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cookies, these ever-popular snowballs boast a melt-in-your-mouth texture that keeps you coming back for more.
These are some of my most favorite cookies to bake during the holiday seasoning. Growing up, we made Russian tea cakes every year.
Russian tea cakes, snowball cookies, or Mexican wedding cookies - however you call them are super yummy and perfect for cookie exchanges and bringing to holiday parties and family gatherings.
Butter: Butter should be softened but not melted for easy mixing. For the best flavor, use high-quality unsalted butter, which allows you to control the salt level in your recipe.
Powdered Sugar: Also known as confectioners' sugar, it gives a smooth sweetness to the dough and creates the snowy effect on the outside.
Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract is preferred over imitation for its superior taste.
All-Purpose Flour: Make sure to measure it correctly, using the spoon-and-level method to avoid dense cookies.
Salt: If you use salted butter, you may want to reduce the added salt slightly.
Walnuts: You can also omit these if you prefer.
How to Make
Prep: Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees to ensure it's ready for baking.
Make Dough: Start your dough by thoroughly mixing the softened butter with half a cup of powdered sugar and vanilla extract until it's well blended and creamy.
Next, carefully mix in the salt. Gradually add the flour, one cup at a time, mixing at a low speed to avoid a floury mess. Once the flour is incorporated, the dough should start to come together.
Stir in the finely chopped walnuts until evenly distributed.
Now, take small portions of the dough and roll them into 1-inch balls. Place these on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spaced about an inch apart.
They don't spread much, so you don't need too much space between them. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. They should be set but not browned; they'll continue to cook a bit after you take them out, so don't overdo it.
Let the cookies cool slightly on the pan for a few minutes. They should be warm but not too hot to handle when you roll them in powdered sugar.
This first sugar coating will melt slightly and create a sticky base for the second coating.
After they've cooled on a wire rack, give them another roll in powdered sugar for that perfect snowy look. Remember, the second coating is what gives them the classic snowball appearance, so be generous.
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Tips for Making these Cookies
Here are some tips and tricks for making perfect snowball cookies:
- Use room temperature butter for proper creaming and a tender cookie texture.
- Don't overmix the dough once flour is added. Just until it comes together.
- Roll dough into uniform 1-inch balls so they bake evenly.
- After the first coat, let cookies finish cooling before the second coat.
- Store cookies in a single layer separated by parchment paper to prevent sugary surfaces from sticking.
Storage and Leftovers
Snowball cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes, are best stored in an airtight container to maintain their texture and prevent them from drying out. Here's how to store them properly:
- Cool Completely: Before storing, make sure the cookies are completely cool to the touch. Storing them while they are still warm can lead to condensation inside the container, which can make the powdered sugar coating become sticky.
- Airtight Container: Place the cookies in an airtight container. You can use a cookie tin, plastic storage container, or even a zip-top bag.
- Separate Layers: If you're stacking the cookies, place a sheet of parchment or wax paper between each layer to prevent them from sticking together and to protect the powdered sugar coating.
- Room Temperature: Store the container at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. They typically last well for about 1 week.
- Freezing: For longer storage, snowball cookies freeze beautifully. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet to freeze individually, and then transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours before serving.
Remember, the powdered sugar coating may absorb moisture over time, so they might need a fresh dusting of powdered sugar before serving if they've been stored for a while.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make Snowball Cookies without nuts?
Yes, you can make them without nuts if you have an allergy or just prefer not to include them. I frequently make them without nuts and they are delicious either way.
How do I know when the cookies are done baking?
The cookies are done when they are set and have a slight color change, but they should not be brown. They typically bake for 10-12 minutes.
Why do my Snowball Cookies crack after baking?
Cracking can occur if the dough is too cold or overworked. Make sure your dough is at room temperature and handle it as little as possible when forming the balls.
My cookies didn't hold their shape, what went wrong?
This can happen if the butter was too soft or the dough was too warm. Chill the dough before shaping and baking to help the cookies maintain their shape.
- 1 cup Butter
- 1 ½ cups Powdered Sugar divided
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 2 ¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ¾ cup Finely Chopped Walnuts
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Cream butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
- Blend in salt. Gradually mix in flour, then fold in walnuts.
- Form 1-inch balls and place on parchment-lined sheet.
- Bake 10-12 minutes until set, not browned.
- Cool slightly, roll in remaining powdered sugar while warm.
- Cool on rack, roll in sugar again.
Roll cookies in powdered sugar while they're warm for the first coat to stick well.
Nutritional information is an estimate and may vary based on ingredient brands and measurement precision.