Pecan Balls

November 18, 2012

in Cook What You Like, Cookies and Confections

Another cookie?  With the holidays quickly approaching, my oven and I can’t stop thinking about cookies.  Often showing up on holiday cookie trays, these Pecan Balls are kind of like sushi. Eat the whole thing in one bite otherwise you could be in trouble.  Why?  Picture yourself in a little black dress or dark sports coat with a trail of powdery white down the front…you get the picture.

These tender crisp shortbread rounds are known by several other names –  Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowballs  – to name a few.  You can use either pecans or walnuts or a mixture of both or don’t use nuts at all.  The dough is simple: the flour is held together with butter with a little powdered sugar mixed in.  Rolling the cookies in additional powdered sugar adds just a touch more sweetness, and makes them look pretty.

They’re almost the perfect cookie as they’re easy and fast to make, requiring minimal ingredients.  They can keep for several weeks sealed in an airtight container but chances are, you’ll be serving them often.

Recipe: Pecan Balls

Summary: Tender shortbread cookies rolled in powdered sugar


  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar for rolling


  1. Lightly toast nuts in a small sauté pan on the stove over medium high heat, stirring often. Watch carefully to avoid burning.  Remove nuts from pan and pour on to a small plate. When nuts are completely cool, chop medium to fine and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. With a hand-held mixer, cream butter until fluffy at medium-low speed. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat on medium-low until well mixed. By hand, add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Mix in chopped pecans.
  4. Preheat oven to  300º F.  Roll dough pieces into 1 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.  Position baking sheet on the middle rack and bake until cookies are barely light brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheets before moving them to a cooling rack.
  5. When cookies are barely warm, place a sheet of wax paper under the cooling rack. Not all of the the remaining 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar may be used, so pour a portion of the powdered sugar into a small shallow bowl and roll cookies in the powdered sugar. Place the cookies back onto the cooling rack to cool completely. Reroll cookies again in powdered sugar before storing or serving if desired.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.  Makes 2 1/2-3 dozen cookies.

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