Pecan Snowball cookies

These crumbly butter Pecan Snowball cookies, that my mum called Swiss Butter Cookies, was one of the first cookies I learned to make. The pecan snowball recipe is a butter pecan shortbread cookie with a melt in the mouth tender quality that keeps you reaching for more.

I did not realise why she called them Swiss Butter Cookies until I watched something on television one night where they had an aerial footage over the Swiss Alps. The first thing I thought of were these cookies and how much they resembled those snowy peaks. I renamed them Pecan Snowball cookies because it conveyed exactly what the recipe is for.

Pecan Snowball cookies appear to be very similar to traditional Mexican wedding cookies, Italian wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, Butterball cookies with pecans or Snowdrop cookies with some differences in the types of nuts used.

As much as I loved these pecan cookies as a child, I disliked the process of having to chop the nuts by hand; then waiting for the dough to chill before making the little balls. Now that I am older, I find the process therapeutic and prefer chopping the nuts by hand to ensure they are exactly the right size 🙂 A touch of OCD shining through there, or ‘being nitpicky’ as my mother (may ALLAH have mercy on her soul and grant her the highest paradise), referred to it.

Although the cookie recipe calls for chopped pecans or walnuts to be added to the dough, my mother sometimes left out the chopped nuts and placed a single chocolate drop or chocolate covered hazelnut in the center instead. The snowball cookies with no nuts was equally popular in our family.

Top tips for making Pecan Snowball Cookies

  • Weigh the ingredients to ensure the perfect result every time.
  • Always use room temperature softened butter to make it easier to cream with the confectioner’s sugar. I usually take it out the night before I want to bake and let it sit out on the counter in the kitchen.
  • Taste the nuts before use and ensure that they are fresh. There is nothing worse than biting on a rancid nut.
  • Chop the nuts as evenly as possible. I would not recommend using a food processor for this as you do not want nut dust or uneven big pieces.
  • If you prefer a nut free version, leave out the chopped nuts and place a tiny Hershey’s or other brand of chocolate drop in the center.
  • The pecan cookie balls are rolled or dusted with confectioners sugar while they are still warm and then a second time. This gives exactly the right amount of sweetness.

Variations of Pecan snowball cookies

  • Replace the dairy butter with vegetable butter for Vegan Snowball cookies.
  • Replace the chopped pecans with chopped walnuts for Walnut Snowball cookies.
  • Replace the chopped pecans with chopped almonds for Almond Snowball cookies
  • Add the finely grated rind of 1 lemon for Lemon Snowball cookies.
  • Replace 65 grams or 1/2 cup cake flour in the cookie dough with cocoa powder for Chocolate Snowball cookies.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of mixed spice to the flour for Spiced Snowball cookies.

These Swiss Butter Cookies with pecans are the perfect treat for Afternoon tea tables, with their melt in the mouth, rich buttery flavor and aroma. To try other cookie or baking recipes click on the links below.

Swiss butter cookies with pecans

Pecan Snowball cookies

Razena Schroeder
Melt in the mouth crumbly shortbread pecan snowball cookies rolled in confectioner's sugar.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Chilling time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Cookie
Cuisine South African
Servings 36
Calories 117 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 250 grams lightly salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 35 grams confectioners sugar / icing sugar, sifted approximately 60 ml or 4 tbsp
  • 5 ml vanilla extract approximately 1 tsp
  • 260 grams cake flour approximately 500 ml or 2 cups
  • 115 grams pecans chopped, approximately 250 ml or 1 cup

Decoration

  • 140 grams confectioners sugar / icing sugar, sifted approximately 250 ml or 1 cup

Instructions
 

  • Cream the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla extract, flour and nuts and mix to a ball. Allow the dough to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes as it will be very soft and difficult to shape.
  • Shape small pieces of dough into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, with space between them. I use a small ice cream scoop to ensure even sized balls.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking to ensure a good shape and texture during baking.
  • If using mini chocolates instead of chopped nuts, place one in the center of each ball.
  • Heat the oven to 170C / 150C fan; 340 F or gas mark 3. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. It should be light golden and not dark brown.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sift half the icing sugar over the hot cookies.
  • Leave to cool and repeat one more time after 10 minutes.

Notes

Variations of Snowball cookies
  • Replace the dairy butter with vegan butter for Vegan Snowball cookies. 
  • Replace the chopped pecans with chopped walnuts for Walnut Snowball cookies.
  • Replace the chopped pecans with chopped almonds for Almond Snowball cookies
  • Replace 65 grams or 1/2 cup cake flour in the cookie dough with cocoa powder for Chocolate Snowball cookies.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of mixed spice to the flour for Spiced Snowball cookies.

Nutrition

Calories: 117kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 1gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 50mgPotassium: 22mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 175IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 5mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.

Keyword easy holiday baking, halaal recipes, simple recipe
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