These Butter Pecan Snowball Cookies make me feel so Shakespearean. A cookie by any other name…
Did you know that these cookies are made in all corners of the earth, and that they have like a billion different names to show for it?
You might have heard people refer to them as Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Southern Butterballs, Polverones, or, of course, Snowball Cookies… just to name a few. Yup, they’re all the same thing: powdered sugar-coated, super buttery, tender shortbread cookies full of ground nuts. And though the entire world can’t seem to agree on what to call them, they can agree that they’re delicious. (That’s why they make them everywhere.)
I personally like to call them Snowballs because, well, look at them. All of that powdered sugar and the rounded tops make them look like tiny mounds of snow, and it’s about as adorable as my Christmas cookies are ever going to get. You know the people who decorate each sugar cookie by hand with different shades of royal icing in itty bitty piping bags? I admire them a lot, but I don’t have the patience for that kind of effort, so making a festive-looking cookie by simply rolling ’em in powdered sugar is a great compromise.
But the most exciting thing about these Butter Pecan Snowball Cookies isn’t the snowball part, it’s the butter pecan part. Toasting the pecans first boosts their deep, buttery flavor, and plenty of actual butter in the recipe makes for a dense and delicious shortbread base. It gets even better when you mix in the secret ingredient: cream cheese.
Cream cheese isn’t typically included in Snowball Cookies (or Russian Tea Cakes, or Mexican Wedding Cookies, or whatever you’d like to call them), but I decided to try it out on a whim, and let me tell you, the cookies wound up so much richer, more tender, and creamier, with this slight tang that made them absolutely addictive. If you’ve never added cream cheese to your cookies before, trust me, now’s the time to start.
I mean you might as well since you’ve got this awesome cookie recipe right in front of you, right?Print
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans
- 1 cup powdered sugar, for rolling the cookies
- Using a handheld mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter together until well blended, creamy and smooth. Beat in the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and mix until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula when necessary.
- On low speed, gradually add flour mixture and mix until just fully incorporated. Once all of the flour is added, mix in the pecans. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place powdered’ sugar in a small bowl; set aside.
- Scoop or roll 2 tablespoons of cookie dough per cookie. Roll into balls and place on the baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown along the bottom edges and just beginning to turn golden on top, about 15 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet. Then roll in powdered sugar. Continue to let cook and roll in powdered sugar again before serving.