Nut allergies are tricky at the holidays--it seems that nearly every cookie contains some kind of tree nut, not to mention the every present "peanut butter blossom" cookie. That's why it's time once again for my Snowballs recipe, a family favorite I created from my grandmother's recipe that used a large portion of ground pecans. Obviously any recipe containing tree nuts wasn't going to fly in our family, so I scoured my cookbooks until I found something surprisingly similar to snowballs--a Greek cookie called Kourambiethes. Unlike most Greek cookies this version of "kourambiethes" contains NO nuts at all. (Some versions do, of course. Just not this one.) Plus, they have the same shape, taste, delicious flavor and yummy powdered sugar coating that my grandmother's cookies had.
This recipe is special to my family because it comes directly from a 1950s Greek church cookbook given to me by my mother-in-law. My husband's grandmother (born in Greece) was one of the contributors of this cookbook, so the grandmother connection continues!
For a festive and attractive addition to any holiday celebration, give these a try. Also, keep in mind that the dough for these is not super-sweet--kind of like a shortbread cookie. The sweetness comes from rolling these in powdered sugar when they're hot and then sifting more over them when they are cool.
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. Once cool, sprinkle with plenty of powdered sugar again.
Check it out: Chicago Parent magazine decided to include these cookies in their online cookbook.