One of my favorite memories from Christmas growing up was definitely the Christmas cookies my Mom would whip up each year. Her cookies were so good, that she began to store the cookies under lock and key (not kidding), so that we would not eat them too fast. The cutout cookies, chocolate delights, candy cane cookies, and the orange zest snowball cookies were the traditional four I remember. My Mom still makes all four each Christmas to this day.
My focus today is on the orange zest snowball cookie. Whenever I take a bite of this snowball cookie, I transport immediately back to Christmastime in my childhood years. The smell, the texture, the taste…so, so good.
The magic is in the orange zest. Most snowball cookies out there do not include zest. Many include rum, honey, different kinds of sugar, but zest is a tough one to find.
The original recipe calls for 2 cups of finely chopped pecans. I was running low on pecans, so opted to use the hazelnuts staring me down in my cupboard. I’ve been finding recently that I love cookies with hazelnuts including these Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies and Dorie Greenspan’s Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I also deviated from the original recipe by adding chocolate chips. I did this because my 13 year old daughter requested “something with chocolate” for her cookie request for today. I, personally, was really craving snowballs due to the Christmas cheer throughout my house (tree, nutcrackers, santa hat, 12 foot inflatable Santa in my front yard, etc…). So I compromised and added in the chocolate chips (such a sacrifice). Snowball cookies with chocolate chips was a new experience for me – a really delicious one.
I’m really only used to snowball cookies with pecans, but I can see now how these cookies are fairly easy to change up, depending on your current craving.
- Use Crisco shortening rather than butter. The shortening creates a very light texture that is just heavenly.
- If you are using chopped pecans, buy the finely chopped variety. I really like the pecans from Trader Joe’s. Perfectly chopped and great price.
I only had regular sized chocolate chips at home today, and they worked fine, but I would recommend the mini chocolate chips if you’re adding chocolate – its nice to keep the cookie size at about one inch, so the minis would work better.
I love sprinkling powdered sugar on these buttery snowballs. It looks like a mini snowstorm. 🙂
Hope you enjoy this treasured recipe as much as I do.
I made this recipe again and used my traditional finely chopped pecans and no chocolate chips. Oh my goodness, how delicious. Sharing a photo of them below:
- 1 cup Crisco shortening (butter flavored)
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups finely chopped pecans (or walnuts or hazelnuts)
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy (about three minutes for my Kitchenaid mixer).
- Stir in the flour, vanilla, nuts and zest.
- Roll one inch snowball cookies out of the dough and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
- Cook for 25 minutes or until slightly golden.
- Place cookie sheet on trivet. Sift powdered sugar over the cookies while still warm.