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~ Tart Cherry & Toasted-Pistachio Snowball Cookies ~

IMG_7218These sweet and savory shortbread-esque two-bite cookies called snowballs, or, depending on where you're from, also referred to as Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes, are the darlings of holiday cookie trays all across America.  The base recipe varies very little from baker-to-baker, because the ratio of flour to butter and sugar is important to prevent them from flattening out, meaning: loosing their ball shape.  Flavored with vanilla, lightly-toasted chopped pecans or walnuts get added to the mixture for additional flavor and texture.  Nobody can eat just one.

A recipe for cherry-pistachio snowballs came across my Facebook newsfeed about a week ago.  I thought the flavor profile to be a nice new twist on this old favorite, so, I decided to "take it from there".  I used my mom's base recipe for Russian teacakes (which is specific to salted butter plus salt), and, I substituted dehydrated tart cherries for maraschino cherries.  I also added pure cherry and pistachio extract to the vanilla extract, to intensify the flavors even more.  I'm delighted with the end result, and thanks go to lemonsforlulu for the inspiration for these delightful cookies.

Snowballs atop my mom's vintage Christmas tree plates:

IMG_7236The darlings of holiday cookie trays all across America:

IMG_71582  cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  cup salted butter, softened

1/4  cup granulated sugar

1  teaspoon each:  pure cherry, pistachio and vanilla extract, or, 1 tablespoon of vanilla-extract

6  ounces chopped toasted, salted pistachios (1 cup)

4  ounces dehydrated tart cherries, snipped into halves and w/kitchen shears (1 cup)

1/2  cup Confectioners' sugar, for dusting baked cookies

IMG_7162 IMG_7162 IMG_7162 IMG_7162 IMG_7162~Step 1.  In a large bowl, cream together combine the butter, granulated sugar and three extracts.  Lower mixer speed and incorporate the flour and salt.  The mixture should resemble pea-sized crumbs.   Remove the mixer.  Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the pistachios and cherries. Using your hand, knead and compress the mixture into a large ball.

IMG_7178 IMG_7178 IMG_7178 IMG_7178~Step 2.  Using a 1 1/4" ice-cream scoop as a measure, in conjunction with your hands, shape dough into 1" balls, placing them on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment as you work.  Place pan of unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

IMG_7193 IMG_7193 IMG_7193 IMG_7193 IMG_7193 IMG_7193 IMG_7193~Step 3.  Bake cookies on center rack of preheated 325º oven until just starting to barely brown, 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack for 5-6 minutes, until cool enough to handle with hands. Roll cookies in Confectioners' sugar while they're still warm.  Return to rack to cool completely, 45-60 minutes, then roll them in or dust them with Confectioners' sugar a second time.

Nobody can eat just one snowball cookie.  Nobody. 

IMG_7242Tart Cherry & Toasted-Pistachio Snowball Cookies:  Recipe yields 38-40, 1"-round cookies.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; kitchen shears; hand-held electric mixer; rubber spatula; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 1 1/4" ice-cream scoop; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3c84ed2200bCook's Note: The combination of tart cherries and pistachios is not something I haven't tried before.  It's one of my favorites flavor profiles for ~ The Holly & the Ivy:  Tart-Cherry & Pistachio Biscotti ~.  Bold and beautiful, bright-red holly berries, clustered amongst shiny, deep-green, pointy-edged ivy leaves, are colors and symbols we associate with Christmas.  Right from the first, meaning the first time my tart-cherry and toasted-pistachio biscotti revealed their sliced selves, I began calling them "holly and ivy biscotti".

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019) 


Ann -- There are many folks who read my blog that I know will look forward to your modifications and feedback. I don't dabble in GF, but, I'm all for someone who "knows their stuff" doing it and sharing it! Happy Holidays. ~ Mel.

I'd like to modify the recipe to make it GF..

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