My all-time favorite Christmas cookie is a recipe that my Aunt Madeline called Pecan Puffs and some people know as Pecan Balls or Meltaways. These simple nutty shortbread rounds, rolled in powdered sugar, look like delicate snowballs and taste like heaven. Here is a perfect example of how a few simple ingredients in the right combination can be truly sublime. Baking them has become a holiday tradition, and friends and family ask for them every year. Tonight, my husband asked, “What’s the recommended serving size for these? 17?18?”
I always double the recipe, so I’m writing it out in Christmas portions.
about 5 dozen cookies
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups sifted cake flour or all-purpose flour
- Confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grind pecans in food processor to consistency of coarse meal. Set aside. With a mixer on medium speed, beat butter until soft. Add sugar, vanilla, and pecans. Carefully add flour and blend well. Coat hands with flour; roll dough into cherry-size balls. Place on greased baking sheet (or parchment paper).
They’ll look like this:
Bake until lightly golden brown on the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes. While cookies are still quite warm, roll them in confectioners’ sugar. When cool, roll again. These cookies can be made up to 3 days in advance.