These cookies go by many names: Russian tea cakes, butterballs, snowballs and more. They are all buttery cookies made with ground nuts and coated in powdered sugar.
They're incredibly tender, melt-in-your mouth cookies that are beloved by many cultures for a reason. They're simple and delicious.
You can make these with pretty much any nut, but pecans are the classic nut for Mexican wedding cookies. Walnuts are also wonderful in these cookies. And there are devotees of almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, and even Brazil nuts for these. So use what you like.
You can grind the nuts in a food processor or put them in a zip-top bag and bash them up with a rolling pin or the back of a skillet.
These crisp, buttery cookies get a sandy texture from the buckwheat flour, which is increasingly available at regular grocery stores from brands like Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills. Cocoa nibs (bits of roasted cocoa beans, sometimes called cacao nibs) can be a little trickier to find, but are available online and from specialty food stores. Valrhona cocoa nibs are my favorite, but I also like Sharffen Berger and there are plenty of other brands available that I haven't tried. These cookies get better with age. I like to let the dough rest overnight (though a few hours is fine) and I like to bake the cookies at least a day before I plan to eat them. The flavor and texture improve as they sit.
These gingerbread cookies are soft, spicy, thick, and cakey. They have a generous amount of ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. The original version of these cookies calls for black pepper, but I prefer these without it so I haven’t included it here. You could certainly add some in if you’d like some extra heat. The dough, after it has rested in the refrigerator overnight, is a dream to work with. It rolls out easily and holds shapes well. Note that these are thicker than most cookies, and be sure not to roll them too thin. The dough should be about 1/3 inch thick. The yield on these will vary depending on what cookie cutters you use. I used a gingerbread person cookie cutter about 3 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ and got about 22 cookies out of it.
This recipe, as it was originally written, comes from an era when margarine and shortening regularly appeared in baking cookbooks, before the pendulum had swung back to butter as an acceptable fat. I’ve updated it to reflect our current thinking about cooking with real foods. You can use any white chocolate you like, I usually use Ghirardelli, but this year I used Lindt with equally good results. Avoid anything labelled white baking chips or with oil in the ingredients list as they won’t melt smoothly. If your seedless raspberry jam is on the looser side, you don’t need to heat it, but if it’s on the thicker side you’ll want to heat it in the microwave or on the stove until it relaxes into a spoonable consistency. As with any drop cookie, your life will be easier if you use parchment paper and a small cookie scoop or disher.
These orange cardamom cookies manage to taste both familiar and surprising at the same time. The combination of citrus with the warm baking spice flavor from cardamom says “Christmas” to me. They do take a bit of work. Be sure to make the dough at least two hours before you’re ready to bake the cookies to give them time to chill–and they’re even better if you let the dough rest overnight in the refrigerator. You can, of course, make these with any cookie cutters you like. I love how they turn out with snowflake cookie cutters. If you want a shortcut, you can roll the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter, wrap it well in plastic wrap, chill for a few hours until firm, and slice them about 1/8-inch thick and bake as directed. They won’t be quite as pretty but they’ll still taste spectacular.