By Jodi Lewchuk
My mother introduced snowballs to the family cookie-plate tradition about thirty years ago by way of a ladies' church cookbook she'd received from one of my father's aunts. Their melt-in-your-mouth texture and festive appearance made them an instant classic. It's now impossible to imagine a holiday without them.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups pecans, chopped very fine
2 cups icing sugar, for rolling
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a large bowl and a hand-held mixer), cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Add the flour; stir to combine well. Stir in the nuts. Using your fingers, pinch off about one tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball the size of a small walnut. Place the ball on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, placing the balls about 2 inches apart. Bake in a 350° F oven until the cookies just start to turn golden, 15 to 17 minutes.
In the meantime, sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Allow the cookies to cool for about 2 minutes. Roll the cookies in the icing sugar while they are still warm, working quickly so the sugar doesn't melt. Allow the cookies to cool completely on wire racks and then roll them in icing sugar again. Store in a tightly sealed container.