It's the holiday season and while my household celebrates Christmas, we're also just as likely to attend holiday events that don't necessarily match its red and green theme. (Hanukkah, Solstice, Buddha's Enlightenment, etc.) I love to bring a plateful of cookies as a gift or put luck offering, so this year I gave my usual Christmas cookie recipe some new, more ecumenical party clothes. Read on for the transformation!
Several years ago, I wrote a post about reconnecting with my family's tradition of making cookies for Santa. Our cookie of choice was Red and Green Christmas Balls which were carefully placed, along with a mug of hot cocoa, next to the fireplace on Christmas Eve.
I still love Red and Green Christmas Balls and all of the traditions of Christmas, but for those times when something a little more neutral, but still sparkly, is required, Holiday Snowballs will fit the bill quite nicely.
This is the same dough as the original Christmas Balls recipe, with a few exceptions: a dash of salt and some elbow grease. In my original recipe, I talk about using a hand mixer but my mixer is in storage and my current abode does not have one. So I beat the (room temperature) butter and sugar by hand until it was well incorporated and then added in the water and vanilla. It took a while, and some careful, delicate stirring and mashing, but the liquid eventually was incorporated. The nuts and flour also took some care at first, but then it all came together. (I had yet to read Sarah Rae's advice to use a fork.)
I decided that a nice simple white cookie would cover all my holiday party bases. Powdered sugar was a natural choice but I didn't want my cookies to be mistaken for Mexican Wedding Cakes, which are lovely but not festive enough for my purposes. So I threw a bottle of very sparkly decorating sugar into the powdered sugar and rolled the cookies it it. They weren't quite sparkly enough, so I rolled them again in just the glitter for an extra top coat of sparkliness.
makes 2 dozen cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted 2 tsp vanilla 1 Tbs water 2 cups all purpose flour 1 cup chopped pecans dash of salt sifted powered sugar, about 2 cups sparkly white decorating glitter, two bottles
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the powdered sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla and water and beat until incorporated. It helps to use an electric mixer as the water will resist the oiliness of the butter and refuse to mix in at first. If you do have to mix by hand, then just be patient and carefully mix and mash the mixture. Or try using a fork. Add the flour, pecans, and salt and mix until just incorporated.
Roll into marble-sized balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the cookies are set and the bottoms have browned slightly. Meanwhile, mix the powdered sugar and one bottle of decorating sugar together in a shallow bowl or plate. Empty the second bottle of decorating sugar on another plate.
When the cookies are done, remove them from the oven and let them sit until they have cooled. Roll in the powdered sugar mixture until coated and then roll in the decorating sugar until sparkly. Store in an airtight container. Happy Holidays!