Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dirty Snowballs

Snowball cookies are also known as Russian Tea Cakes or European Wedding Cakes. Mexican Wedding Cakes usually have some chocolate in the dough. I thought I would be terribly clever and give each one a truffle center. It mostly worked. Every single one developed a small hole and erupted a little chocolate, but the end result tasted how I expected.

I don't know why this is my favorite holiday cookie. It's basically sweetened butter with enough flour and nuts to make it taste more interesting than, well, a pat of butter with powdered sugar on it. Maybe it's because I got to roll them in the powdered sugar when I was little. They're also very easy to make if you skip the truffle steps, but they're not as interesting.

A note on chopped walnuts: I always buy halved walnuts, in case a recipe or garnish needs them, and crush them myself. The procedure is to put the desired amount in a sturdy ziplock and smash the hell out of them with a rolling pin. This gives you control over just how small the pieces are. You can get anything from slightly cracked to a fine paste. Sure, you could use the food processor, but then you'd have to clean it. This way, you just toss the baggie.

*4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 C heavy cream
1 C (2 sticks) butter
1/2 C powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
*3/4 C finely chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp salt

1. Heat cream just to boiling and pour over chocolate. Or, microwave both on low power for 1 minute. Stir until the ganache is smooth. Place in refrigerator to firm, at least 1 hr.

2. With a small melon-baller, make 24 balls of ganache and place on a piece of wax paper. Freeze until solid, at least 1 hr.

3. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla.

4. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat into creamed butter. Beat in nuts. Form into a disk and chill until firm, about 1 hr.

5. Form dough into 24 balls, approx. 1 Tb each. Flatten each ball and place a ball of ganache in the center. Carefully enclose ganache in cookie dough, sealing it all around, and roll dough back into a ball. If ganache starts to melt, return it to the freezer for a few minutes.

6. Place cookies on greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper or a silpat). Bake at 350º until pale gold, about 20 minutes. Either roll in powdered sugar or sprinkle it on from a shaker while the cookies are still warm. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 2 dozen.

Difficulty rating :-0

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