We’re entering into the holiday baking season. Which, for me, typically runs from February 1 to December 31. I give myself a month off in January. For normal people, presumably the holiday baking season is around – you know – the holidays. Some might’ve started early for Halloween and/or Diwali. Some might go all-in for Thanksgiving (Canadian, American and otherwise). Then you’ve got Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah celebrations crying out for baked goods.
If your holiday season hits the winter months, I like this “snowball” cookie to help usher in the season of desserts and loose pants. If you’re uber-geeky like me, you can also serve them in snowflake containers or mitten-shaped dessert plates. Yes, I have those. Where else would you put snowball cookies?
There are actually several variations of snowball cookies. The most recognizable and traditional is probably the Mexican Wedding Cakes which aren’t cakes at all but little round cookies of buttery goodness stuffed with toasted pecans and covered in powdered sugar. Hence the snowball effect. There’s also a lemon variation without the pecans. And today, I give you the coconut version.
The tricky part is because the dough is so pale, it might be hard to tell when it’s time to take out the cookies. Conventional wisdom says to check the bottom of the cookie – you don’t want it darker than a light golden brown. But who checks the underside of a hot, fragile cookie and risk breaking it? Not me. So what I do is bake just until the cookie dough ball doesn’t look raw or shiny. Instead the tops should be “dry” and there may be a few tiny cracks along the cookie. The edges of the bottom might have some color but don’t rely on that. “Bake until not raw” usually works for me, typically for no more than 10-11 minutes in my oven. Or, if you’re more scientifically minded, you can set a timer but each oven is different so err on the side of caution and check them a couple of minutes early.
Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before rolling them gently in powdered sugar. Then let them cool completely before rolling them again. I know, that’s hard but be strong, it’ll be worth it. These are cookies that actually are better eaten at room temp than hot or warm. Because that’s when you get the best texture. Lukewarm might be okay but cool them until at least lukewarm, not warm, not hot. I loved the coconut in these and the snowball look. These are likely going into holiday goodie bags for my baking gifts this year, especially for the coconut lovers on my gift list.
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound (16 tablespoons, 2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, optional
2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
about 3 cups confectioners' sugar for dredging the cookies
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- Cream butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer for 3 minutes, until creamy. Add the 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar and beat for 1 minute. Blend in vanilla extract.
- On low speed, add half the dry ingredients, then the coconut and then the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing briefly after each addition until just combined. Do not overbeat. Scrape down sides of bowl to keep dough even textured.
- Portion into golf-ball-size dough balls, cover, and freeze several hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space frozen dough balls 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until set and the bottoms are a light brown. Let cookies stand for 1 minute on baking sheets then transfer to wire cooling racks with a small metal spatula. After 5 minutes, dredge in confectioners' sugar. Cool cookies completely then dredge them again in the confectioners' sugar.