Pistachio Snowballs – Dense pistachio cookies covered in powdered sugar to make them look like snowballs
I can’t get enough pistachios this month! After making these pistachio macarons, I continued to have cravings for them all month long. Thankfully, I had tons of pistachios leftover. But instead of making the macarons again, I decided to branch out and try out a new cookie.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Mexican wedding cookies, which are dense little round cookies that taste like pecan shortbread cookies rolled in powdered sugar. They’re so buttery and crumbly and delicate all at the same time. They really hit the spot, especially around the holidays.
So when I saw this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction for pistachio cookies made with REAL pistachios, they reminded me of the Mexican wedding cookies that I had such adoration for already but made with ground pistachios. And given my current obsession with pistachios, I just HAD to try them.
And here’s how my Pistachio Snowballs turned out!
What are snowballs?
Snowballs are just another name for those Mexican wedding cookies. I’ve also seen them called Danish wedding cookies. Whatever they’re called, they are all made the same way with similar ingredients.
How are these cookies made?
These dense cookies get their texture from a few things:
- So much butter!
- No eggs
- No leavening ingredients (baking powder, baking soda)
- Powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar
Because these cookies are so dense, they do not spread very much while baking. Therefore, they benefit from being shaped into perfect round balls so the final product remains pretty.
To make sure all the balls are shaped the same size, I cut the dough into 36 perfect little squares and then roll them into balls. Then I bake for 15 minutes and finish by roll the baked cookies in powdered sugar. That’s all there is to it!
Tips & Tricks
As always, here are a few tips to ensure this recipe is executed perfectly:
- Do not skip the step where the dough is chilled. If you do, the dough will be too thick and sticky to roll into balls
- I use salted pistachios for this recipe so there is no need to add additional salt to the recipe.
- To make the snowballs extra snowy, I roll them in powdered sugar TWICE. Powdered sugar gets absorbed pretty easily so if you only do it once, not much sugar will still be showing.
- This recipe has both vanilla extract and almond extract. You really do need both of these. They offer such different flavors but together, they make one delicious-tasting cookie!
- By nature, the color of these cookies is a light brown with a very slight hint of green. To bring out the natural color of the pistachios, I add a very slight amount of yellow and green gel food coloring. It really doesn’t take much at all so start with a tiny amount and add more if needed. A little goes a long way!
- 1 cup pistachios shell, salted
- 1 cup butter unsalted, softened
- 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- pinch yellow gel food coloring
- less than a pinch green gel food coloring
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Set aside. Pulse pistachios in a food processor until finely ground. Set aside.
- Add softened butter to bowl of stand mixer. Beat on medium for 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix on low until combined. Add flour, 3/4 cup of ground pistachios, and food coloring and mix on low until dough forms.
- Pour dough out on large square of plastic wrap. Cover with another large square of plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 9x9 rectangle. Place sheet of dough in freezer for 20-30 minutes, or until firm.
- Remove from freezer and cut dough into 6 rows and 6 columns to make 36 evenly sized squares. Take one square and roll into a ball. Place ball on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with rest of the dough, placing dough balls no more than 1 inch apart. These cookies won't spread much so no need to keep them very separated.
- Bake in preheated oven for 14-15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Place remaining powdered sugar in a small bowl. Toss cookies in powdered sugar twice. Sprinkle remaining ground pistachios over the cookies. Serve immediately, or let them cool and then store for up to 3 days.
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