Festive Cookies for Snow-free Climes

Back in Edmonton, I’d get festive. I’d spend a weekend baking treats for friends, and an evening designing greeting cards featuring exuberant penguins. The Nutcracker Suite would be on repeat and I’d probably watch A Charlie Brown Christmas at least twice. I’d stop complaining about the weather for a few weeks. There were parties, drinks with friends, Skype calls with family. 

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Here in North Carolina, it’s been a little different. I’ve been doing the normal things – the wrapping, the cards, watering down my eggnog with milk as I was raised to do.

But I haven’t yet managed to find the Christmas spirit.  

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Maybe it’s the weather. December days that register in the plus twenties celsius are disorienting for someone who bids adieu to warmth every September. Or maybe it’s that I’m distracted, too focused on navigating a new city, on a new bicycle (instead of my plain old feet). Or maybe it’s the monstrous Carolinian crickets that seem to follow me around, either to terrorize me or to befriend me, I’m not yet sure.

And of course, I’m away from my family and friends. So there’s that too. 

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Today, I made these little cookies, melt-in-your-mouth snowballs flecked with toasted pecans and rolled in cinnamon-scented powdered sugar – unapologetically bad for you, as holiday baking so often is. While they were in the oven, and as music from Home Alone played in the background, a parcel arrived from my parents, packed with presents and stocking stuffers. Not long after, we went out for a pint of holiday-spiced beer with a friend. And when we got home, my sister and I chatted over Skype about our plans for the break. And then we ate some more cookies. 

Things are looking up. Now all I need to do is sort out how to transport a Christmas tree home on my bicycle.



Pecan Snowballs/Mexican Wedding Cookies
Makes 4-6 dozen 
Adapted from Bon Appetit via epicurious.com

Note: I know 4-6 dozen is quite a range. Hear me out. The original recipe specified that it made four dozen, but I followed the instructions closely, using two teaspoons of dough per cookie, and made out with about 70+ teeny cookies. In short: If you’re precise, you’ll make lots. If you’re a little more generous in your sizing, you’ll probably get closer to the 4 dozen specified.

Ingredients
1 cup of butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup of icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup of cooled toasted pecans, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions
1. In a large bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy (an electric mixer, or spoon and some vigour, will do the trick).
2. Add in the smaller quantity of icing sugar and the vanilla extract, and beat again until light and fluffy. 
3. Add the flour, and stir until it’s almost fully combined into the butter mixture.
4. Add the pecans and stir again until thoroughly incorporated through the dough.

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5. Divide the dough into two balls, wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 
6. While the dough is chilling, whisk together the larger quantity of icing sugar and the cinnamon in a bowl/pie plate/other dish.
7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
8. Remove one ball of dough from the fridge. With your hands, roll the dough into 2-teaspoon-sized balls, spacing them about 1 inch apart on the sheet. 
9. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the cookies are just beginning to brown.
10. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then roll a few times in the powdered sugar mixture (I found a fork worked well for tossing and removing the cookies from their sugar bath). 
11. Place coated cookies on a cooling rack to cool completely. Once they’re cool, you can give them another toss in the powdered sugar, if you please! 

step-2.jpg12. Repeat steps 8-11 with the remaining ball of dough. And now you have a zillion teeny cookies!

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