Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas cookie baking begins
with Walnut Snowball Cookies

My annual foray into Christmas cookie baking began this year with Walnut Snowball Cookies (click for the recipe).
    I chose to try this recipe for two reasons: The apt-sounding name, and the use of vanilla bean seeds in the recipe, something I have never seen before in recipes for similar types of cookies.
    They were a good choice to get me in the holiday mood. They were easy to make and looked very wintery.
    Above all, they were bite-sized pieces of goodness that were a hit with everyone to whom I served them.
    One of my co-workers said they reminded her of the Christmas cookies her mother used to make.
    These cookies are practically begging to be served with a cup of tea, but they are just as good snuck off the plate, taken to a quiet corner, and enjoyed.
    They were easy to make.
    Walnuts are toasted in the oven, then coarsely chopped (I used a small electric kitchen chopper, but was careful the pieces weren't chopped too finely).
    Butter and vanilla bean seeds are beaten together, followed by additions of confectioner’s sugar (also called powdered sugar), salt, flour and walnuts until the dough comes together. It won’t come into a ball, but soft pieces; it’s your job to put the pieces together and roll them into balls.
    Level tablespoons of dough are arranged on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and baked for about 17 minutes.
    After the cookies are cooled slightly, they are rolled in confectioner’s sugar to coat, then left to cool completely. The recipe says to roll them in sugar again, but I didn’t bother – they were coated well enough.
    The recipe says the cookies will keep in an airtight container for about five days, but I found that after three days the freshness started to ebb away.

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