Pecan Snowballs melt in your mouth with a rich buttery flavor and a delicate crumbly texture. Whether you know them as Mexican Wedding Cookies (Polvorones), Viennese Crescents, or Russian Tea Cakes, you'll want to make these easy pecan shortbread cookies again and again!
1cuppecans, toasted and finely chopped, see Recipe Notes
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment bowl (or hand mixer), beat the butter on medium speed until it's completely smooth and creamy, about a minute.
Beat in ¾ cup(85 grams) of powdered sugar on medium high speed until the mixture looks creamy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Add in the vanilla extract and beat on medium-high speed until it's fully incorporated.
Add in the flour in four batches, mixing on low speed. The dough will become stiff and grainy, but will smooth out in the end. Once all of the flour has been mixed in, turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until the dough fully comes together. Finally, beat in the pecans until they're evenly distributed in the dough.
Cover the cookie dough tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days (see Recipe Notes).
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line two half sheet baking pans with Silpat silicone mats or parchment paper.
Using a small cookie scoop, take one tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball with your hands. Place the dough on the baking pan at least 2-inches apart.
Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until they're golden brown on the bottom edges and just barely browned on top. The cookies will flatten slightly as they bake.
Pour about half of the remaining powdered sugar into a shallow bowl (you can add more as needed). Allow the cookies to cool for five minutes on the baking pan, then roll them around in the powdered sugar to coat completely. The cookies will be fragile while they're warm, so be gentle. The sugar coating will be thin, but that's fine. This is the base coating which will allow the baked cookies to be slightly sticky. Place the cookies on wire racks to cool completely.
Add the rest of the powdered sugar to the bowl. Once the cookies have completely cooled, roll them again in the powdered sugar and dust off the excess. You should get a much thicker coating of sugar this time.
Storage instructions: Pecan Snowball cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Baked cookies can be kept frozen in an airtight bag for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature. They might need an extra coat of powdered sugar before serving.
Make-ahead instructions: The unbaked cookie dough can be kept frozen in an airtight bag for up to three months. Thaw the unbaked dough overnight in the refrigerator, then allow to come to room temperature before baking.
To toast whole or coarsely chopped pecans, bake them at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, then let them cool a bit. You can also use unsalted dry-roasted chopped pecans and skip the baking step entirely. Using a food processor, pulse the pecans a few times to really chop them up fine.Walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds can be used in place of the pecans or even leave them out altogether (although then you really just have powdered sugar-dusted shortbread).If you'll be chilling the dough for more than 3 hours, the cookie dough will be very stiff and hard to roll. Just let the cookie dough sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling them into balls.