Monday, December 1, 2008

Pecan snowballs

based on Real Simple's recipe; makes 30 medium-sized cookies, about 50 that for small cookies. Note that the balls of dough can be frozen and saved for later.

Use parchment paper.

Amounts for double recipe are in parentheses.

For another cookie recipe that uses a flour-pecan cookie dough, look at this recipe for Iced Pecan Cookies.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup pecans (1-1/2 cups)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (4 sticks), at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (2 cups), plus 1/2 cup (1 cup) for coating the cookies
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (1 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (1 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 tsp)
2 cups all-purpose flour (4 cups)

Preparation:

Pecans can be prepared ahead of time: Heat oven to 350° F.

1. Spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes.

2. Let cool and roughly chop.

TO PREPARE THE DOUGH:

3. In a large bowl, cream the softened butter and 1 cup of the powdered sugar with an electric mixer or by hand, until fluffy.

4. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts and salt.

5. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated.

6. Mix in the chopped pecans.

7. Shape the dough into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 1 inch apart: tablespoon-size for medium cookies (which Jeanne prefers); teaspoon-size for smaller ones (which Liz prefers).
    NOTES: At this point, the balls of dough can be frozen and pulled out as needed. See notes on Wrapping and Freezing at the end of the recipe. Also, Real Simple calls for refrigeration at this step but similar recipes do not, and the cookies turned out fine in 2008 without refrigerating.
8. Bake at 350 until lightly golden, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes.

9. Place 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Roll the cooled cookies in the sugar.

Wrapping and freezing:

To Wrap: An egg carton provides protection for light and crumbly snowballs. Snip off the carton lid, nestle the cookies in paper candy cups, and wrap the whole thing in a sheet of cellophane, Tootsie Roll-style.

To Freeze: Instead of refrigerating the balls of dough, freeze them on the baking sheet before storing them in bags for up to 2 months. To bake, follow the recipe instructions, baking from frozen, and use the upper end of the time range.

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