We’re getting a lot of snow in Chicago this year. Today, we all woke up to a temperature of -16° F. Seriously folks, -16. I keep wondering to myself why people settled here. The weather is pretty terrible for most of the year, but it sure can be pretty. The city looks really nice right now covered in white powder. All of the snow got me thinking about powdered sugar. Or snowballs. Or something. I somehow ended up at Mexican Wedding cakes, as they are commonly referred to. They are also called Russian Tea Cakes, Pecan Butter Balls, Viennese Sugar Balls, Snowballs, or as my friend Katie and I affectionately call them: Balls.

Whatever you call them, they are great. I have been eating these since I was a very little person and have always loved them. The great thing about these cookies is that I can usually make them with stuff I have at home. The perfect cookie if you are snowed in, or simply too lazy to walk to the store. Baking as much as I do, it is sometimes easy to forget the classics. I am usually in search of something new and thrilling, some twist on a classic or something I have never tried. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the most satisfying and this is definitely one of those. You probably have your own recipe for these, this is more or less a reminder not to forget your favorites. If you don’t have a favorite recipe, try these.

Mexican Wedding Cakes (Snowballs)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided, plus more for decoration
  • 1 cup pecans (or walnuts), toasted and frozen
  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour and salt and set aside. Pour 1/3 cup of the sugar and the frozen pecans into a food processor. Process until finely ground.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and reamining 1/3 cup of sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla during the final moments of mixing. On the lowest speed add the nut mixture, and then add the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly  combined.

Use your hands or an ice cream scoop to form 1-inch balls of dough and place on prepared baking sheets.

Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until lightly golden on the bottom, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, leaviing cookies on pan, and immediately sift a generous amount of powdered sugar over the tops. Let the cookies cool completely on pan and then dust again with powdered sugar. Store at room temperature for up to 10 days.

13 comments to “Snowballs”

  1. These cookies pop up everywhere in a million ways…pecans, peanuts, walnuts. Always good no matter what. We love hazelnuts in ours!

  2. So simple, and I bet so tasty. They are perfect for this snowy weather.

  3. Ahh..I am going to make these today! Perfect.

  4. Your blog is just beautiful, I love it! (I found it through another gorgeous blog, Buff Chickpea). Your snow balls look lovely, and I’m partial to the version with pecans myself!

  5. Thanks, Andrea! Glad you found L+D. Pecans are my favorite too.

  6. Not much snow here, as always (England).

    Still, lots of rain though.

  7. Hi! What a gorgeous photo to post with this recipe. These “balls” are definitely a childhood favorite, and always a hit1 Why don’t we make them during the year more often, instead of just at Christmas? Love your blog!


  8. We call them Swedish Butter Balls in my home. My mother used to make them for me, and now I bake them for my friends! They are my most popular holiday cookie.
    It’s interesting to see the differences between our recipes. I use twice the amount of nuts (pecans) than you, and half the sugar. We also roll them in powdered sugar instead of dusting, so you end up ingesting the same amount (or more!) of sugar in the end.

  9. These look wonderful! Love your recipe choices, Tim! The addition of cloves/cardamom/cinnamon would be nice, too..?

  10. Question. This recipe looks delicious, so I want to make sure I get it right. In the recipe you call for 8 oz, or two sticks of butter. But isn’t 2 sticks of butter 16 oz? 2 sticks sounds right, so it’s the only fat in the recipe, but I wanted to make sure. Thanks!

  11. Hi Julo, Nope, 2 sticks of butter is 8 oz. (4oz each), as the recipe states. The recipe is correct. Happy baking!

  12. I know it’s been years since you posted this, but maybe you will still read my comment. My Mother always made these cookies, but a little different, she always put a hersheys kiss in the middle of the cookie, and called them “secret kisses”. They were so good! But maybe not for you, you don’t like chocolate. Just thought I’d share the suggestion :)

  13. Thanks for the idea, Taisie! I know most people love chocolate, so I am sure people will think this sounds great!

What do you think?