PISTACHIO + BLACK SESAME SNOWBALLS

 
snowballs for gifting
 

Snowballs. Swedish Heirloom Cookies. Russian Tea Cakes. Mexican Wedding Cookies. Different names for the same cookie.

These snowballs are based off the traditional recipe my grandmother used for her Christmas cookies when I was growing up, but instead of almonds, I've used roasted pistachios, and also added some black sesame paste. The result is a sweet, nutty, earthy cookie that ends up being a bit more intriguing than the original (though, don't get me wrong, I still love the traditional cookie!)

Pro tip: when eating snowballs, do not inhale while you eat lest you end up coughing up a cloud of powdered sugar.

Anyway, it's food gift packaging week!

If you're like me, you're probably about to start a whole lot of holiday baking, most of which will get wrapped up and gifted to friends, family, coworkers, your mail carrier, kids' teachers, your hair stylist, etc. Baking is a pretty economical way to give gifts. You can throw a huge batch of cookies together for a very small amount of money, divide them up, and end up with gifts for more than a few people. Food-related gifts are the best...they're useful, they don't result in more unnecessary trinkets/junk on the receiving end, and because they're homemade, it's obvious that you put legit time and energy into something. When I get homemade food gifts, I feel loved (even if I'm not crazy about the actual food item gifted). 

Over the course of this week, I'll show you a few different simple ways to package up those food gifts with the hope of giving you some new ideas to use this holiday season. And I'll throw in a few recipes, too, of course. 

Back to the snowballs. I like them best piled in a mason jar tied with a ribbon, as shown above. It helps protect them (they can be fragile), and it keeps the powdered sugar insanity contained. Mason jars are pretty cheap when you buy them in boxes of 12-16 (you can even get them at the hardware store), and I found this pretty twill ribbon on sale last year at Target.  I love giving these out, in any variation, as gifts during the holidays. They're festive -- I mean, they actually look like little snowballs -- and super simple to make.

Pistachio + Black Sesame Snowballs

recipe makes 18-24 cookies (can be easily doubled or tripled!)

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar, plus extra for tossing
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3.5 oz shelled dry roasted unsalted pistachios (I found mine, shelled, at Trader Joe's)
1 TB vanilla extract
a little less than 1/3 cup black sesame paste (found at specialty and asian grocery stores, or make your own)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment.

  2. Grind up pistachios in your blender or food processor. You can go for whatever texture you'd like here - I prefer them to be roughly ground so the cookies have a crunchier texture.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients, and mix until combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice to make sure you're incorporating everything.
  5. Scoop into tablespoon-size chunks, and roll each chunk between your hands to create a smooth sphere. place 2 inches apart on your cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 325F for 18-24 minutes. The bottoms of the cookies should be golden, and the tops should only have the slightest touch of color. You don't want them to dry out too much.
  7. Pour extra powdered sugar into a bowl. Roll hot/warm cookies in the powdered sugar, and place them on a rack, or on a different (cool) cookie sheet to finish cooling. Lightly dust cookies with more powdered sugar, if desired.
  8. Eat!
  9. These last a while -- if they're sealed airtight, you can get away with about a week or so.