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Snowball cookies (Russian tea cakes): A Delightful Holiday Treat

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Snowball cookies (Russian tea cakes)

Snowball cookies, also known as Russian tea cakes, are a delightful treat perfect for any occasion. These melt-in-your-mouth cookies are made with simple ingredients like butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla, making them easy to prepare and delicious to eat.

What sets snowball cookies apart is their delicate, nutty flavor and their powdered sugar coating that resembles a snowball. You only need a few ingredients and a bit of patience to create these sweet confections that are loved by many.

Imagine biting into a cookie that is crisp on the outside, yet buttery and crumbly on the inside. Snowball cookies are a timeless classic that bring a sense of nostalgia and warmth, making them perfect for the holidays or any gathering with friends and family.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Butter: Use 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened. If you only have salted butter, you can use it but skip adding the salt later.

Powdered Sugar: You need about 1/2 cup for the dough and some extra for rolling the cookies after baking. Powdered sugar keeps the cookies light and sweet.

Vanilla Extract: Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for flavor. If you don’t have vanilla, you can use almond extract for a different taste.

Salt: A pinch of salt balances the sweetness. If you’re using salted butter, leave the salt out.

Flour: Use 2 cups of all-purpose flour. For a gluten-free option, you can try a gluten-free flour blend.

Nuts: 1 cup of finely chopped nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, or almonds, gives the cookies texture. If you’re allergic to nuts or prefer a nut-free version, try using finely shredded coconut instead.


Step 1: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together 1 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and mix well.

Step 3: Gradually add in 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt while mixing. The dough should be well combined but slightly crumbly.

Step 4: Stir in 1 cup of chopped nuts if you’d like. Walnuts or pecans work well.

Step 5: Scoop out about a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball with your hands. Place each ball onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about an inch apart.

Step 6: Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly golden. Be careful not to overbake.

Step 7: Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes. Then, roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar to coat them.

Step 8: Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack. Once they are cool, roll them in powdered sugar again for a perfect snowy look.

Enjoy your delicious snowball cookies!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Cool Completely: Let your snowball cookies cool down fully on a wire rack before storing. This avoids moisture buildup, keeping them crunchy and fresh longer.

Use an Air-Tight Container: Store your cookies in an air-tight container to maintain their texture and flavor. This prevents the cookies from becoming stale or soggy.

Layer with Parchment Paper: If you’re stacking the cookies, place parchment paper between the layers to stop them from sticking together.

Room Temperature Storage: You can store these cookies at room temperature for up to a week. Make sure they are in a cool, dry place.

Freeze for Longer Storage: For longer storage, freeze your cookies. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze until solid, then transfer to an air-tight container. They can last in the freezer for up to three months.

Re-dusting with Sugar: After storing, the powdered sugar might absorb into the cookies. To refresh their snowy look, lightly dust them with powdered sugar again before serving.

Refrigerating Dough: For the best baking results, refrigerate your cookie dough for at least an hour before baking. Cold dough prevents the cookies from spreading too much, resulting in that perfect snowball shape.

Use Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality butter and pure vanilla extract. This enhances the flavor of your snowball cookies and gives them that melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Keep these tips in mind, and your snowball cookies will stay delicious and fresh, ready to enjoy!

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Russian tea cakes are delightful as they are, but you can experiment with fun variations. Here are some ideas to try:

Nuts: Swap out the traditional walnuts with pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts for a different flavor.

Flavors: Add a few drops of almond, lemon, or orange extract to change up the taste.

Chocolate: Mix in mini chocolate chips or dip the cookies in melted chocolate for a sweet twist.

Spices: Add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom to the dough for a warm, spiced flavor.

Fillings: Stuff a small piece of caramel or chocolate inside each dough ball for a delightful surprise.

When it comes to serving these tasty treats, try these ideas:

With Coffee or Tea: These cookies are perfect with a hot drink. Serve them alongside coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.

Holiday Platters: Include them in a holiday cookie tray with other favorites like gingerbread and sugar cookies.

Gift Bags: Place them in a decorative tin or cellophane bag tied with a ribbon. They make charming homemade gifts.

Ice Cream Topping: Crumble them over vanilla ice cream for an extra indulgent dessert.

By experimenting with different flavors and serving them in creative ways, you can keep your Russian tea cakes exciting every time you make them. Enjoy!

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.