My favorite Christmas cookie: Snowball cookies
Snowball cookies are one of those cookies which various cooks and families know by different names, whether it is Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, or Snowball Cookies (at Natasha’s Kitchen who claims Ukrainian roots.)
I grew up knowing them as Snowball Cookies so that’s what we’ll go with here. And I love that I got this recipe from Mary Ann Krabill Hollinger, who used to bake them for the Russell and Martha Krabill household. Russell was the first pastor I ever knew who was everything you want a good pastor to be: warm, caring, loved children, preached well, had deep passion for needy in our community, and much more. My father was blessed to serve as deacon with him at North Goshen Mennonite Church.
I think I remember the first time I ate them at the Krabill home. Martha was a hostess par excellence, who was truly a biblical “Martha” in the kitchen and dining room, preparing meals with elegance and excellence out of her Lancaster County, Pa. tradition. That is not to say she wasn’t a “Mary” too—as a pastor’s wife, piano teacher, and mother of two children Mary Ann and James (oh and she would have never called them kids) who grew up to follow family footsteps into true servant ministry roles. Earlier I wrote and shared photos about Martha’s special influence which led me into a career in writing, even though she was my piano teacher!
That’s a little of why I not only love the taste of these cookies, but the memories and relationships they bring to mind. Isn’t that what special recipes do for us?
I usually only make these at Christmas and hope to pop a batch in the oven later today. This is my variation in which I doubled the recipe, because the original recipe doesn’t make very many. This one yields about 36-40 or so small cookies that are extremely rich, so you don’t normally eat three or four at a time in spite of their small size. One or two will do quite nicely, at 144 calories each. Still, they are to enjoy!
Snowball Cookies (my adaptation)
1 ½ cup butter (softened)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup nuts (pecans or almonds)
½ cup white sugar
2 ¼ teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons water
1 cup or so of powdered sugar
Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, flour, salt, water and nuts. Form into balls the size of walnuts. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Do not brown.
Remove from cookie sheet. After they have cooled 2-3 minutes, (enough to touch), roll them in a small bowl of the powdered sugar. Place on paper towel to cool some more. When completely cool, roll again in powdered sugar. It almost takes two rolls in the sugar for the powder to stick.
What special recipe brings a friend, family member, or fellow church member to mind? Share your story!
I’m pleased to let you know that the Mennonite Community Cookbook 65th Anniversary Edition (2015) is now on sale over at MennoMedia’s store at 30% discount until Christmas. Stock up for gifts for anyone you know who might love this classic and historic longtime bestselling Mennonite cookbook. It has a new 12-page “history” in the back of this edition that I was privileged to write and put together last year.
And now I’ll retire to my kitchen, house, and family for a little blog vacation. I wish you and your families a most joyful Christmas. If you are going through difficult times which too often don’t seem to take a vacation at Christmas, may the special peace, goodwill, and assistance of family and friends uphold you.
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas.