Snowball Cookies (pecan/almond shortbread)

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I have a funny story. My mom told me today that one of my dad’s patients once brought him these delicious cookies as a gift. My dad, who can rarely consume sweets due to a history of stomach cancer, LOVED them. After devouring all of these “nutty ball-shaped cookies”, my mom and dad asked the patient for the recipe. She refused. Either a family secret, a secret recipe, or maybe there were drugs inside of the cookies. That would be one way to describe how good they tasted. So, when I came home from school and an undeniable urge to bake struck me, I committed myself to finding and making these cookies. Once I discovered these “snowball” cookies, and found it matched the description of Ms. Secretive Patient’s, I got to work. The results were scrumptious. Currently, my mom and dad are finishing the last of the cookies I made about 30 minutes ago… And that’s proof enough to me! So enjoy this recipe, because sharing is caring! 🙂

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cups finely chopped pecans
1 cup almond meal
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar for rolling cookies (I omitted and it tasted great)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2. Mix the flour, 1 cup of the chopped pecans, and the salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Stir 1 cup almond meal into the flour mixture and set aside.

4. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough just begins to come together but still looks scrappy, about 15 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl again and continue beating at low speed until the dough is cohesive, about 10 more seconds.

5. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands and place on the prepared baking sheets. The cookies will only spread a little bit, so you can place them fairly close together. Bake until the tops are pale golden and the bottoms are just beginning to brown, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.

6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

7.(I omitted this step) Place the powdered sugar in a large zip-top bag. Working with 3 or 4 cookies at a time, place them in the bag of sugar and gently toss to coat them thoroughly. Gently shake off any excess. Allow the cookies to sit for at least an hour, or up to overnight, and then repeat the process. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
(Recipe slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

Brown Eyed Baker: (Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)

Pistachio and Dried Cherry Biscotti

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a whole loaf of Pistachio and Dried Cherry Biscotti!

Why is warm two days from Christmas? California I do not understand you...

 

The holidays are whizzing past me right now, and I’m just starting to enjoy the freedom that comes with them. It was so nice to wake up after the sunrise and all that, and even the fact that I’ve been experiencing a stomach bug since yesterday hasn’t dampened my spirits! With school out and everything, I have much more time than usual to spend in the kitchen, which makes me very happy.

I got this recipe a little while back from my aunt, who is an avid baker as well as a crafter (if that’s even a term), and I was so excited to give it a test! With Christmas just around the corner, the red fruit and the green pistachios give the biscotti a festive coloring, making it the perfect recipe to start off this Christmas series.

The hues of the nuts and fruit are so vibrant against the plain dough of the biscotti. Hungry yet?

And not only does the biscotti look good, it tastes good as well. Baked twice to achieve that crispy crunch that one searches for in a biscotti, your company will be clamoring for a second serving. Served with a steaming cup of post-dinner coffee, this biscotti is bound to be the perfect ending to any holiday gathering!

PISTACHIO AND DRIED CHERRY BISCOTTI

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp baking powder’

¼ tsp salt

1 cup dried cherries

2 tbsp no pulp orange juice

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs, room temperature

½ tsp vanilla extract

¾ cup shelled unsalted pistachios, toasted and chopped coarse

  1. Adjust rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. Microwave cherries and orange juice, covered, in a small bowl for about 45 seconds. Let cool to room temperature, this should take about 30 minutes. (NOTE: if you need to cool the mixture a bit faster, stick it in the fridge for a bit.)
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter and remaining sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. (NOTE: I used a hand mixer instead.)
  5. Slowly add eggs and vanilla into butter mixture until incorporated.
  6. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture into butter mixture. Fold in cherries and pistachios, mixing until just evenly incorporated.
  7. Transfer dough to prepared sheet, and with floured hands, form into two 13×2 loaves spaced three inches apart. Bake until light golden brown and just beginning to crack on top, about 30-35 minutes.  (NOTE: The dough will be a bit sticky, so floured hands are necessary. Trust me.)
  8. Take loaves out and allow to cool for 10 minutes before using a serrated knife to cut the loaves in to half-inch thick slices.
  9. To achieve the perfect crunch, lower the oven to 325 degrees. Then take the sliced loaves and stick onto a freshly lined baking sheet and bake for another 10-15 minutes, flipping each slice halfway through the baking.

VARIATIONS:

Instead of dried cherries, I replaced them with dried cranberries and it worked just as well. Pistachios can also be replaced with other nuts if so desired. If you’re looking for a softer biscotti (it’ll end up being more like bread), skip the double baking step.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy this recipe and have a wonderful time over the holidays! Check back tomorrow for another Christmas cookie recipe! Feel free to mention comments, concerns, questions, and cuss words below!