Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a very soon to be Happy New Year! Wow... 2016. I'm not going to go there. Though personally I have much to be grateful for, I am very ready for us all to move along to a fresh new start. One thing is for sure, it's going to be interesting.
As this year draws to a close, I find that as is usual for me, I feel the urge to cook the homestyle dishes and family recipes that bring with them wonderful nostalgia and warm family memories. As I think of the people behind those foods, I'm sorry to say that there are many who can no longer join us around the table at Christmas. That doesn't mean their spirit isn't there.
Enjoying the cookies you see above always makes me think of my Great Aunt Mary. She made these powdery confections every Christmas and referred to them as Snowballs. It's also come to my attention that these crumbly, light cookies packed with ground Pecans and Butter go by many names and enjoy obvious cross-cultural popularity at holiday tables and beyond. Some call them Butterballs, Rum Balls, and still others, Russian Tea Cakes. Come to think of it, they're also a bit like Mexican Wedding Cookies.
When I think of Great Aunt Mary, a sweet and gentle soul known for her caution and tidiness, I can't help but also think of the phenomenal Eggplant Rollatini she was also known for. She delighted in its methodical, meticulous preparation, and let me tell you, if you were lucky enough to take home a tray of these leftovers, you knew you were in for some good times.
Though Aunt Mary passed away several years ago, I wanted to honor her this holiday by remaking Snowballs. Without access to her original recipe, I scoured the web for something that looked similar. Truth be told, I can't picture my Aunt Mary adding Rum to these, but what do I know. The winner was a recipe that was featured in Bon Appetit's roundup of Old School Italian Christmas Cookies Sounds about right...
I followed Bon Appetit's Butterballs (aka Snowballs) Recipe exactly and I am happy to say they were fabulous. Light, crumbly, melt in your mouth. The perfect cookie for dessert of even breakfast/brunch with coffee! Even better, these are super easy to make and look beautiful and festive dusted with Confectioner's Sugar. They make great hostess gifts or just any special occasion. Old school though they may be, they have a chic quality to them; I could see serving them at a bridal shower or even chic cocktail party.
If I had to pick another of my all time favorite Christmas Cookies, I'd definitely go with the Pignoli, but the Snowball is nonetheless a fab addition to any table, any time of year. I hope they bring back good memories for you, and today, I enjoy mine with my Great Aunt Mary in my heart.
For the recipe, click HERE.