Day 14 of "25 Days of Angels Baking Christmas Memories"
My niece, Lizbeth, introduced them to the family at a Christmas dinner and they were a hit! They melt in your mouth.
(Photos by Lizbeth.)
I used to help my Mother and Grandmother make these at Christmas time when I was a small child. They would let me roll them into “snow” balls after they baked them, and then allow me to roll them in the soft powdered sugar after they were cooled. That was the fun part – getting sweet sugary fingers to lick off later. What a treat!
A few years ago I found out that my Niece has a recipe for something similar that she loves to bake. Mom never had cake flour on hand, which Lizbeth swears by, so that’s one difference between their recipes. And, Mom used butternuts, which were abundant on Gram's farm. Pecans were just too expensive back then, plus, they were not always available. And, if they were, they had to be cracked and cut out of the shells by us kids. Which was okay with me. I enjoyed extracting these fine nuts.
Lizbeth's pecan balls are delicious – light and airy and they melt in your mouth. The double dipping in the powdered sugar on the outside adds an extra airiness in each bite. Yum!
Prep your pan:
Line one or two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 300F degrees.
1 C Butter, softened (2 sticks)
4 T Sugar
1/2 t Salt
2 C Cake flour (do not substitute regular flour, use a quality brand – note the cake flour tip at the bottom of this recipe that I have added)
2 C Pecans, finely chopped
Make the snowball recipe:
- Cream the butter, sugar and salt by hand, not with an electric mixer.
- Add the cake flour ¼ cup at a time and blend thoroughly with each addition, stirring by hand.
- Fold in the finely chopped pecans. Lizbeth grinds them VERY small so that the nut fats get distributed all throughout the cookies.
- She finds that the more mixing you do without an electric mixer, the flakier the cookies will be.
You’re on a roll:
- Roll the dough into balls about the diameter of a quarter. You can make them larger, but then they are difficult to eat. Lizbeth prefers the bite size version. The cookies hardly expand so you can pack them closely on the cookie sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. That way you can probably get all the cookies from one recipe onto one cookie sheet.
- Bake in a 300F degree oven for 45 – 60 minutes. Check them at the 45-minute mark. For the quarter diameter cookie, you will probably need 45 minutes. If you make them larger you may need the full hour.
- If you start to see cracks, they are done. You don’t want too much cracking or they can fall apart. The bottom of the cookie should be a nice golden brown. The top will remain white.
- Roll the cookies immediately in powdered sugar, while they are hot. Lizbeth likes to roll them again after they've cooled a bit, but they must be hot at least for that first roll in the sugar.
- Lizbeth likes King Arthur cake flour best. She says it gives them a lighter and crispier texture. She says KA flour makes them flakier and they dissolve in your mouth better.
- You don’t usually need to roll the cookies in powdered sugar twice, but Lizbeth created that step and likes them better when they are rolled twice. I agree with her.
Don’t have cake flour? Try this trick:
- If you don’t have cake flour on hand, here’s a way to create your own.
- Sift 14 T regular flour plus 2 T cornstarch together. Sift the mixture twice.
- Spoon the mixture into a one cup measuring cup and level it off by scraping a straight edged knife across the top.
- Now you can use this 1 cup mixture for 1 cut of cake flour.
- Repeat for each cup of cake flour that you need.
- Only make one cup at a time.
- Only make it “fresh” for your recipe and do not store it. It’ll just compact and not be as light and fluffy as cake flour needs to be.
(NOTE: Do not use when making Angel food or white cake.)
It’s more fun to make these with another person, some kids or friends. Just be sure to share the fun and “Bake your own Memories!”