Cookies…we can’t quit you.
Yeah…we know. You ate your weight in cookies over the holidays. And you’re probably all on the “get in shape for the new year” thing. But, wouldn’t a cookie taste good right now? Just one lil’ cookie…
Snowballs, Sandies, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Italian Wedding Cookies…whatever name you know it by, this classic treat graces many a cookie plate during the holidays. It’s essentially a buttery shortbread ball with ground walnuts or pecans that is finished by rolling it in a generous amount of powdered sugar. A bit messy to eat, but always a crowd pleaser!
The best thing about this cookie is that it is easy to make. If ever there is a time that you don’t have the bandwidth to wait for dough to chill or painstakingly frost perfect little morsels, it’s during (or just after) the holidays! I say this as someone who thoroughly enjoys making holiday treats to gift and share – sometimes you just don’t have half a day to spend on a baking project. This dough comes together quickly and it’s no problem if they look like lumpy blobs. Not only does it give them extra rustic charm, the powdered sugar coating is quite forgiving regarding any aesthetic issues.
How do you update such a classic cookie? I elevated the flavor with toasted hazelnuts and added mini chocolate chips. Hazelnuts and chocolate make such good friends (hello, Nutella!) Using the mini chips keeps the chocolate element more delicate, whereas regular sized chocolate chips would steal the show over the hazelnuts. The first coating the baked cookie is rolled in is a combination of cocoa powder and powdered sugar that creates a thin chocolate layer as it melts onto the cooling cookie. It is then finished with the powdered sugar layer to give it that classic white snowball look.
One of my favorite things about this cookie is that it’s not too sweet. There’s very little sugar in the dough itself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that dessert should be sweet enough that you get what you came for, but during the holiday season everything has the sugar quotient turned up to 11. Amidst all of the sweet overload, this cookie provides a nice balance. Buttery and nutty on the verge savoriness, a little chocolate in the mix and sweet finish – it hits all of the right notes.
So go ahead and whip up a batch of these for your holiday party, and use all of that time you saved to go knock a few more things off your to-do list like the superwoman that you are!
Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Snowball cookie recipe
makes approximately 3 dozen
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
- 1 1/4 c sifted powdered sugar, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/4 c flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 c mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 c cocoa powder
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Toast the hazelnuts on medium high in a large skillet, stirring constantly, until they become fragrant, approximately 6 minutes. Do not let the skins burn.
3. Pour the hazelnuts onto a clean kitchen towel and use the towel to rub loose skins off. You don’t have to get all of it, but the skin is bitter so it improves the flavor to at least get rid of the loose ones. Set aside to cool.
4. Use a hand or stand mixer to cream softened butter and 1/2 c of the powdered sugar until fluffy.
5. Stir in vanilla.
6. Mix the flour and salt in a separate bowl.
7. Add the flour and salt mixture to the butter mixture in increments until everything is incorporated.
8. Use a food processor to grind the hazelnuts into small chunks, approximately 8-10 pulses. Stop before it turns into a fine meal; leave some pieces big enough to crunch on.
9. Add the crushed hazelnuts and mini chocolate chips to the dough.
10. Use your hands to form the dough into balls approximately 1 inch across. No need to be precious about the shape, you can just crush the dough between your cupped palms until it is held together firmly enough to hold the shape.
11. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 11-13 minutes, until they just start to turn golden brown. These cookies do not really expand so you can fit a lot onto the cookie sheet.
12. While the first batch is cooling, mix 1/4 c of the remaining powdered sugar with 1/2 c cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Roll the cookies one by one in the mixture to give a generous coating and then set aside to cool completely.
13. Repeat until all cookies have been rolled in the cocoa mixture and have had a chance to cool.
14. In a new bowl, roll the cookies in the remaining 1/2 c powdered sugar to give them the final powdery white coating.
Cookies will keep approximately 2 weeks in an airtight tin or container.
So, go ahead and have a cookie. We won’t tell. We heartsters – what did your family call these kinds of cookies? Share in the comments!
Heather is a midwesterner living in Los Angeles and enjoys concocting weird flavor combinations and exploring delicious ethnic foods. She blogs at foodforfunandpleasure and knows her way around the spice cabinet like nobody’s business.