Snowball Cookies for a Snow Day

Snowball cookies

Like most of the northeast we had our first blizzard of the year today. Here in the White Mountains of New Hampshire we got about a foot of beautiful snow. Which made it a perfect day for Dan to make his favorite holiday cookie from his childhood, Snowball Cookies. These wonderful delights are also known as Cannonball Cookies (actually what Dan’s family called them). I’ve also seen them called Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cookies.

I searched high and low for a history of these little cookies, but couldn’t find anything. Dan grew up in the 1950s and that’s about the era they begin to appear in cookbooks. We got our recipe from an undated cookbook called Tasty Treats for the Holidays published by the Home Service Department¬† of the Rochester (NY) Gas & Electric. Judging from the graphic design I’d say it dates from the 1960s.

Dan was just dying to make these cookies which were his all time Christmas favorites. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1/2 cup shortening (he used softened butter)
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 and 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tsp. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 c. chopped nuts (he used walnuts, but many people use almonds)

Take the butter out of the refrigerator and let it soften

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Dan making the cookies

Once butter is softened, cream “until very plastic and smooth”

Beat in evaporated milk a little at a time until it is all taken up by the shortening (you need a hand mixer to do this)

Add vanilla

Sift together the flour, salt and confectioners’ sugar

Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to shortening mixture (it got very dry and Dan ended up using his hands to blend this)

Add nuts which have been chopped (Dan cheated and used the food processor)

Roll the cookies into tiny balls (about 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie)

Place cookies on a greased and floured baking sheet

The cookies took much longer to bake than what the recipe said. Dan ended up baking them for 30 minutes.

While still warm, roll them in more confectioners’ sugar

Finish by rolling in confectioners' sugar

The result? Another winner in the homemade dessert department.  It was interesting to compare them to some similar snowball cookies that were store bought and brought to our Open House party as a present. While these were good too, they were sweeter and not as fresh tasting.

Hope you enjoy this arctic blast from the past.

2 Responses to “Snowball Cookies for a Snow Day”

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  1. Jeannine says:

    Great project for a snowy day! I am going to try these. I have been cooking with coconut oil (organic & unrefined) and I really want to try these with it. My sugar, cranberry, almond cookies come out very crispy and yummy. I know Anut Lil didn’t have coconut oil (did she?) but she didn’t have a food porcessor either! She didn’t have a nice double walled cookie sheet and the parchment paper I’m going to use on it and I’ll just bet her cookies were still better than mine will be!

  2. Aunt Lil says:

    Yes, I’m sure you’re right that Aunt Lil didn’t have coconut oil, but she did have Crisco. She probably used it more than butter, but I haven’t done that quite yet. She didn’t have many gadgets as far as I can tell. A wood stove was it. Dan remembers that Aunt Lil’s husband Charles used the woodstove for cooking until the day he died in the 1950s. He also had an old fashioned bread toaster that fascinated Dan.

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