Sunday, January 2, 2011


Pecan Bells. Mexican Wedding Cookies.  Butterballs.  Russian Tea Cakes.  Called many names but always yummy, these rich not-too-sweet nutty shortbread cookies are particularly popular around the winter holidays.  They look great on a cookie tray!

Tip:  when making several cookie doughs for your Christmas baking sessions , write the name of the cookie when wrapping up the dough to put in the fridge.  Egg nog can cause blurry vision and after awhile, cookie doughs start looking alike.

Mix flour into creamed mixture.

Fold in pecans.  Or walnuts. Or a combination.
Gather dough into a flat disc and wrap in wax paper.  Identify, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm enough to roll into balls.

Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into 1" balls.  Make the balls similar in size for even baking.

After cookies are baked, line the space under the wire rack with wax paper or newsprint and place cookies on rack to cool.  When still slightly warm, gently brush off crumbs, and roll cookies in powdered sugar and let cool completely on rack.  Reroll in powdered sugar before storing.

Pecan Balls

1  cup butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
2 cups flour
1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Powdered sugar

In a medium mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together butter and granulated sugar until fluffy.  Add vanilla extract, mix well.  Stir in by hand, the salt and flour, and then fold in chopped nuts.  Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 325 º F.  Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into 1" balls, placing balls 2" apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes or until firm and light brown on bottoms.  Remove cookies from oven, let sit on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then  gentle move to wire racks to cool.

When still slightly warm, brush off crumbs if any, and roll cookies in powdered sugar.  Replace on to wire rack to cool completely.  Reroll cookies in powdered sugar before storing.  Makes about 4 dozen balls.

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