Saturday, December 18, 2010


Not the actual SNOWBALLS made of snow, silly!  Everyone knows that snow would not be on my list of "stuff I love".   These snowballs are cookies from the heirloom recipes handed down from my great grandmother to my great aunt to my dad and now to me.  Eventually my kids will hopefully love these so much that they won't be able to have Christmas without them either.  
Here's the recipe...translated directly from Nanny.

1 lb          Imperial or Blue Bonnet
1 C          powdered sugar
4 1/2 C    flour
1/2 t        salt
1/2 t        baking powder
1 t           vanilla
2 C          chopped walnuts 
Cream butter and powdered sugar in the yellow Pyrex bowl.  Sift 3 C flour, salt, baking powder and add to creamed mixture.  Mix remaining flour and nuts together.  Add to creamed butter/flour mixture.  This is a very stiff dough and may be worked with CLEAN hands.  Form walnut size balls from dough and bake 30 minutes at 300 degrees.  Remove from oven and drop into brown paper bag of powdered sugar while still warm.  Remove and place on rack to complete cooling process.  This dough should be worked at the time of preparation and not stored overnight in the refrigerator.

OK here are my personal changes...There are some things you can mess with, and some that I've found out the hard just can't.  I don't use Imperial OR Blue Bonnet.  I use regular butter.  (And I have a funny story about butter, but I'll save that for later...)  I leave out the walnuts because Daughter #2 has a severe tree nut allergy.  And no one seems to mind because they don't love nuts anyway.  But I can tell you that both my dad AND my great grandmother would be horrified by that change in their recipe.  
I ALWAYS use the Yellow Pyrex bowl, though...I'm afraid there would be some serious force in the universe that would be displeased if I tried to use anything else...not taking chances with that one. 
You can use a plastic ziploc type bag for the powdered sugar application, but be careful because sometimes the hot cookies or the HOT cookie sheet will melt the bag and then you'll have a giant mess everywhere.  (don't ask me how I know that)
And as far as substituting Agave nectar for the sugar in this recipe, it totally wouldn't work.  The dough has to be like pie crust, so adding any more liquid would ruin the consistency.  And no wheat flour either.  They have to be shortbread.  So much for my efforts to make healthy Christmas cookies.  It's an exercise in futility.  And who wants healthy Christmas cookies anyway?  That's what New Year's resolutions are for.
This recipe makes about a million cookies, but they don't last long

...especially if you make them on a Saturday and your 4 kids have 4 friends over.  

They've been eating them as quickly as they come out of the oven, so now after hours of baking, I have exactly 20 cookies on my counter.  I didn't even have time to transfer them to a container yet! 

Here's the butter story...

YEARS ago when I was first married, I thought I'd make ALL the traditional Christmas cookies in my very small, less than adequate kitchen.  Seriously, all I had in my favor was the Mojo of the Yellow Pyrex bowl and even that wasn't helping much.  I took the eggs and butter out ahead of time and got them to room temperature.  I had the oven at the right temperature.  I carefully sifted all the flour.  I even had an apron on!  And then I started trying to form the snowballs to go into the oven.  After the first 6 came out as a crumbly mess, I finally broke down and called my dad.  If you knew my dad, you would have been hesitant to make that phone call, too.  He was the rescuing type.  If he had lived closer at the time (he lived in HOU and we lived in ATL), he would've just hung up the phone and come over to make the cookies for me.  But because I knew a "rescue visit" would be physically impossible, I went ahead and made the phone call and confessed that I had done something wrong.  We went through the ENTIRE recipe...twice!  By Time #3, I was beyond frustrated and ready to just give up.  And then he said, "Did you put in a WHOLE POUND of butter?"  (ugh!  of course I had put in a WHOLE POUND!)  I relented and said, "yes...two whole sticks!"  And then he started laughing...for a really long really laughing so hard that my mom had to get on the phone and ask me what the joke was.  (I still wasn't sure.)    Apparently, the joke was that two sticks of butter does not = a WHOLE POUND.  (hmmmppff!  does it say that anywhere on the butter package?  yep, actually it does...)

Needless to say, that was not the last time my butter measuring capability came under scrutiny.   I thought about him when I made these with 4 whole sticks of butter today.  Actually, now I don't leave myself any room for error and I just by the ONE POUND block of butter from Costco (which is clearly marked in both POUNDS and CUPS.) 

It is a joy and an honor to remember my family at Christmas every year.  I have made these cookies (with assistance and without) for 30 years and in my adult life, I have shared them with neighbors, friends and co-workers.  I have shared the recipe more times than I can remember.  I have taught my daughters how to make these (AND how to measure butter).  

Nothing would have made Nanny and my dad happier than to know that people were enjoying their cookies.  They cooked because they loved it and they shared everything they made.  And it always makes me happy to know that my ancestors' legacy is very much alive in our hearts (and our tummies) at Christmas.   
Nanny, Aunt Mary, Uncle Lee, Grandad




  1. Alrighty then! Guess what *I'm* thinking I'll be baking tomorrow??? And because I have a Grandma living in my house, WE HAVE A YELLOW PYREX BOWL! So, *my* Snowballs should come out perfectly, right?!

  2. YES, MA'AM! Pyrex bowls = perfect snowballs...oh, and a WHOLE POUND of butter helps too. :)