Pecan Snowball Cookies
Of all holiday cookies, few are as simple and as Southern as our Pecan Snowball Cookies. Also known as Russian tea cakes, these small spheres of buttery vanilla shortbread have crunchy pecan pieces dispersed throughout their crumbly texture. Our recipe is special because we take the time to toast the pecan pieces in the oven before making the dough. A step requiring no more than 10 minutes, toasting the pecans first forces the pecans to release their oils and take on a richer and nuttier flavor. Once they've cooled, these pecans are mixed into the shortbread, their oils perfuming and flavoring the cookie dough. For balance, the cookie dough itself is not very sweet because the cookie balls are coated twice in powdered sugar. The first coating happens minutes after the cookies come out of the oven. The warm exterior of the cookie causes the powdered sugar to stick, and as they cool, the powdered sugar adhering to the surface becomes very sticky. It's this sticky surface that makes the second coating of powdered sugar cling to the cookie and form a dry and powdery sweet casing for the rich and nutty cookie. This recipe makes 4 dozen Pecan Snowball Cookies, so you will have some to share (if you want to).