Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Noel Balls, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cookies...

Noel balls are my favorite holiday cookie. Variations on the basic recipe are also called Scandinavian Walnut Cookies, Walnut Snowball Cookies, Pecan or Butter Balls, Mexican Wedding Cakes/Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes/Cookies, and probably a few others. They seem to have been made by almost everyone's family, and are one of almost everyone's favorites cookies. The effort required to make them is inversely proportionate to how delicious they are. What's not to love? A buttery-sugary-toasted nuttiness flavor, all rolled into a pop-it-in-your-mouth-sized ball of joy. Just as most everyone else does, I credit my mom as the origin for my recipe, though she prefers walnuts (Scandinavian Walnut Balls), and I prefer pecans. I love all variations of these cookies -whatever name they are called.

Noel Balls
1 c. butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. finely chopped nuts
Form 1 1/4 inch balls. Place on baking sheet and chill thoroughly. Bake 325-350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Roll balls in powdered sugar while warm, and again when cool.

Years ago, when my kids were little and our dog, Jane was just a puppy, I had baked several batches of cookies for our holiday gift tins. I ran out of counter space in the kitchen, so I put a batch of these cookies on the floor downstairs in our family room to cool. Jane, being the very smart dog she is, had quickly learned the rule that she was to ONLY EAT FOOD PUT ON THE FLOOR. So of course, she thought that the cookies had been intentionally put on the floor for Good Dog Jane, and ate every last cookie.


  1. What a cute picture of Jane. I'm sure she enjoyed her holiday cookies! Once our German Shorthaired Pointer, Coco got up on the dining room table and ate somewhere around 30 holiday cookies my mother was cooling during a big baking day. Mom had driven down our 1/2 mile driveway to pick us up after the school bus had dropped us off and Coco took every advantage of that. Not such a good dog.

  2. Your story made me laugh -it's always funny later. I remember how outraged the kids were at the time. Every year baking them we are reminded of the time Jane ate all the cookies, and we all laugh about it now. Of course, it's the fault of us people not thinking it through from the dog's perspective -Cookies? For Me?

  3. I love the picture of the dog!!!! Thank you for finding me on Ravelry.

  4. I love the picture of Jane as well. My pup didn't even let me get to the baking part this year. He stole the bags of flour and sugar right off the counter top, oh and the cookbook. Obviously has issues with cookies that aren't for him.

  5. we did the 12 days of Christmas for a neighbor none of us knew. On the 12th day we put a big cinnamon roll tree on the porch and rang the bell and ran. We put chocolate chips in our buns and was I shocked when 5 years later my neighbor tells me their very old lab died after eating some goodie left on their porch. WOW I hated to tell her we left the goodie. She said he died smilin from the yummy he ate. No hard feelings...