Pecan Snowball Cookies (aka Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes) melt in your mouth with a buttery soft & crumbly texture. Yum!
I think most everyone can relate to a recipe that reminds them of a cherished relative.
For my husband, his late grandmother’s Mandelbrot (a Jewish version of almond biscotti) was a cherished favorite. For me, it’s my late Sapta’s Russian Tea Cakes that bring me back to her home and her hugs.
Yes, I view cookies as pre-portioned bits of food hugs.
These cookies have many names, like Mexican Wedding Cookies or Pecan Snowball Cookies. I use them all interchangably.
Whatever you call them, these cookies are easy to make and yummy to eat!
Shortbread cookies with a twist
Essentially, Mexican Wedding Cookies are a variation of shortbread...just butter, sugar, flour.
The difference here is the addition of toasted pecans and vanilla, and the use of powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar in the batter. It's the powdered sugar than give these cookies their distinctive crumbly texture.
Oh, and let’s not forget the double coating of powdered sugar these babies get after baking!
You can substitute other nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds) if you want, or even leave them out altogether (although then you really just have powdered sugar-dusted shortbread).
Because there are so few ingredients going into Pecan Snowball Cookie recipe, it’s important to make sure you use the best quality you can. For me that meant using Kerrygold butter, a rich butter from Ireland.
(Side note: If you want to see the difference between Kerryold butter and regular grocery store butter, check out the Great Butter Battle Bake-Off I conducted for a blog post I wrote for OutlanderCast.com about shortbread).
A quick and easy cookie to make
Recipes for Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Pecan Snowball Cookies abound.
What sets Pecan Snowballs apart is toasting the pecans before you chop them up. Doing so enhances their flavor, adding extra...uhmm...oomph to the cookie.
Making this modified shortbread cookie recipe is really easy.
Beat the butter and powdered sugar together, then add in the vanilla and flour.
Next, shape the dough into balls. I like to use cookie scoops to portion out even sized balls of dough. Usually I'll make the balls, then bake half the dough and freeze the rest. That way I can have fresh cookies anytime.
Here's where Mexican Wedding Cookies differ from shortbread. After they come out of the oven, immediately roll the balls in powdered sugar. Don't worry if the powdered sugar looks a bit thin. Here it acts like a base coating, allowing the baked cookies to be slightly sticky.
Once cooled, roll the cookies again in powdered sugar so they're completely dusted. Now you have that powdery exterior that Pecan Snowballs are known for.
By the way, I always use Silpat silicone baking mats to line my baking mats. Nothing sticks, yet they're tacky enough to prevent cookies from spreading too much. They also clean up easily, and are reuseable (no tossing parchment paper!). That's a huge win in my book.
Really, I highly recommend them.
A buttery and crumbly delight
Pecan Snowball Cookies melt in your mouth with a wonderfully soft and crumbly texture from the powdered sugar (inside and out). Meanwhile, the pecans add a pleasant contrast and crunch to the rich buttery flavor.
Just know that if you're wearing dark colors when eating them, you might look like you've been caught in a snowstorm!
Biting into Pecan Snowballs transport me to simpler times when my grandmother would pinch my cheeks, and I didn’t worry about calories.
These cookies also showed that the fuss my grandmother made over her grandkids didn’t extend to fussing in the kitchen (with her Russian Tea Cake recipe, at least).
I’m glad that Pecan Snowballs are easy to make, so I can bake a batch and conjure up a food hug.
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Recipes for butter cookies
If you like your cookies to be rich and buttery, here's a list of butter cookie recipes for you. Butter cookies galore!
Pecan Snowball Cookies (Mexican Wedding Cookies)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (8 oz, 227g)
- 2 cups powdered sugar, divided (8 oz, 240g)
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour, (10 oz, 280g)
- 1 cup pecans, finely chopped and toasted, see Recipe Notes (4½ oz, 125g)
- In a large bowl, beat the butter using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or hand mixer for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add ¾ cup (3 oz, 85g) powdered sugar and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
- Add in the vanilla extract at beat on medium-high speed until combined. Switch to low speed and slowly add the flour. The dough will look dry and you may not think the flour will fully combine. Once all of the flour is added, turn the mixer up to high speed (the dough will come together). Finally, beat in the pecans.
- Cover the cookie dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days (see Recipe Notes).
- Using a small cookie scoop, roll one tablespoon of cookie dough per cookie. Roll into a ball and place on the baking sheets, at least two inches apart. Bake the cookies until golden brown on the bottom edges and just barely browned on top, about 15 minutes.
- Allow the cookies to cool for five minutes on the baking sheet, then very gently roll them in the powdered sugar to coat completely. Don't worry if the powdered sugar looks a bit thin. Here it acts like a base coating, allowing the baked cookies to be slightly sticky. Place the cookies on wire racks to cool completely.
- Once completely cooled, roll in powdered sugar again. This is when the sugar will really stick.
- Serve and enjoy!