Here's my all-time favorite Christmas cookie recipe, "Snowballs." I came up with this recipe to replace the powdered-sugar coated pecan cookies that my grandmother used to make at Christmas time. My recipe is based on a Greek butter cookie called "Kourambiethes", a cookie that has the same shape and powdered sugar finish as my grandma's pecan cookies--except without the nuts. It's very unusual for a Greek cookie to be nut-free so these are a find! I skip the spirits usually called for in the recipe to make these more palatable to children, but if you like, add a tablespoon and a half of brandy or ouzo to the dough.
1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar + 2 tbsp, plus lots more for sprinkling on cookies
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure orange extract (optional)
1 scant tsp salt
5-6 cups of all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a standing mixer, beat softened butter until very light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, egg yolk, vanilla and orange extract if using, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add flour a little at a time until soft dough is formed that can be handled easily. Taking about a teaspoonful at a time, (I use a tiny ice-cream scoop) roll into a small ball. Place on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar while still hot.
If you're looking for a version of this cookie that is also dairy- and egg-free, try The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book. Kelly has a great recipe for these. And while I'm on the subject, this book makes a great Christmas gift. I just saw the book in my local Borders bookstore in the food allergy/cooking section. You can also get a copy at Kelly's website.