Buttery nut-filled cookies, coated with a layer of powdered sugar, these cookies transport me back to my grandmother’s kitchen every time I make them. Sugar Butter Balls have been one of my family’s favorite holiday cookies ever since I was a child.
Whenever we visited Grandmother’s house, I knew she’d be in the kitchen first thing in the morning, no matter how early I woke up. She’d have a plan for every meal, every snack, and for all the desserts throughout our visits. Her enthusiasm for hosting family visits was matched by her happiness watching our faces as we tasted the foods she made for us. Nothing takes me back to Christmas at her house quite the way these cookies do when I bite into them.
When I partnered with McCormick to put a new twist on a long lost family recipe this holiday season, I immediately thought of my grandmother's cookies. These cookies are known by countless names throughout the world; Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowball Cookies, and Polvorones, just to name a few. My grandmother always called them Sugar Butter Balls. Made with little more than butter, sugar, flour, and a handful of nuts, this is a distinctive little bite-size cookie that everyone loves.
I’ve added citrus zest to these cookies in the past and the cookies are wonderful with any number of spices, but for today I want to share one of my favorite spices with you. Aromatic nutmeg has a sweet, nutty, nostalgic flavor and the fragrance is incredible. It pairs perfectly with these buttery nut filled cookies and I’m happy to tell you that McCormick has one of the freshest, most fragrant ground nutmegs I’ve ever used.
The first time I tried making these cookies on my own, I was 18 years old and living in my first apartment. I had my grandmother’s recipe for them, but I figured I knew best. Instead of rolling the warm cookies gently through the powdered sugar, I placed them in a Ziploc bag and poured sugar over them. When I shook the bag to coat them with sugar, at least half the cookies broke apart. The cookies were still delicious, but they were a mess to eat. In the years since, I’ve learned that Grandmother knew best. If you follow her directions for rolling the cookies in the sugar, yours will turn out every bit as perfectly as hers always did.
SUGAR AND SPICE BUTTER BALLS
Yield: 24-30 cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus 1 cup more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon McCormick ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts