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.