I grew up eating these. Every time we would go to Windmill Bakery I was allowed to get one thing and these were it. Sadly that bakery shut down 20 years ago and no other bakery I went to had these cookies.
I found this recipe online somewhere about 18 years ago. It was someone’s families recipe that they got from someone. I just wrote it onto a scrape piece of paper and shoved it in with all my other recipes. This is my favorite cookie. It’s probably second to the Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies as the one people look forward to. I always make a double batch of this, as a single batch just isn’t enough and everyone looks for the little white balls in with their cookie baskets that I give out at Christmas to everyone.
So day 2 (I had to skip a day I was way too busy with work to make cookie dough) of making cookie dough began with grinding my hazelnuts (filberts). If you are lucky enough to get this already ground you are extremely lucky. I am not that lucky, they are only sold whole and in little bags. So I have to grind them up myself. I used to have to do this in a little mini chopper, but a couple years ago I got myself as a “birthday present” a beatiful full sized food processor. This has saved me on more than one occasion.
Now, I don’t peel the hazelnuts so if you don’t like the peel, by all means roast the nuts and peel them. I’m all about short cuts and they get ground up, so I have no problems with them in there. It’s up to you.
Then I weigh out my butter (I find it easier when I have a big block of butter to weigh it rather than try and guess that I’m cutting it on the correct line to get the proper amount of butter. And I refuse to squish my butter into a measuring cup, I’ve had air pockets before and it just never was the right amount.) If you have sticks of butter – you want 3/4 of a cup or 170 grams. (I’m making a double batch, so that’s why it’s 345 grams).
Then start creaming the butter. Now I’m a pretty impatient person and if I start getting everything measured out before hand, I will almost always never cream the butter long enough. So once I start creaming the butter, I start measuring out the rest of my ingredients. This way I make sure the butter gets creamed properly.
So measure out your powdered sugar, corn starch, salt, flour and ground hazelnuts (now you could use pecans or walnuts in place of the hazelnuts – I won’t look down on you, but hazelnuts are my favourite). And give this a quick whisk to mix everything together.
Now dump this into the creamed butter (make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl before dumping this all in there). Mix this on the lowest setting of your mixer for approximately 1 minute and then turn it up to 2 (don’t try going higher than 2 as it will start flying around everywhere). It will look like it’s not going to come together, but let the mixer keep going for 3 to 4 minutes and I promise it will come together.
Once it has all come together, scoop the dough out onto a cookie sheet (oops, forgot to take a picture of the scoop – but it was a 2 tsp/10 ml sized scoop) and place in the fridge in order to firm up.
At this point you can either place them in a freezer bag, labeled with the type of cookie and baking tempature and time on the bag and freeze for up to 3 months (This is what I’m doing) or you can bake them off. They do need at least an hour in the fridge for the butter to become hard again.
If you are going to bake them off right away, while the cookies are in the fridge, about half way through their “chilling out” time preheat your oven to 350°F. These cookies don’t “spread” so they don’t need a tonne of room on the cookie sheet but give them a little breathing space. Bake them for 10 minutes. You want to see them slightly browning around the edge.
Once they come out of the oven, let them cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes as they are extremely soft and you don’t want them to fall apart on you. Then transfer to a cooling rack for about 15 minutes and then coat them in more powdered sugar. There truly cannot be enough powdered sugar on the outside of these. They need to look like snowballs. In fact, once I’ve made them, and put them in a tupperware container to store them, I pour more icing sugar on top of them before storing, just for “extra goodness”. (These need more powdered sugar on them)
If you are going to freeze these, they can be baked from frozen, I do this every year and they may take approximately 12 minutes, but I defnitely wouldn’t go any longer. You want these to melt in your mouth, so try not to get them brown all over. Just a slight brown around the edge at the bottom is fine. Sometimes I don’t even get any browning at all, they just sort of get a “dried out” look to them.
Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies (Snowballs)
Makes approx. 4 1/2 to 5 dozen (depending on size)
3/4 cup (170 grams) butter – room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup ground hazelnuts (or pecans or walnuts)
**extra powdered sugar to coat
1. Cream butter very well (approximately 3 to 5 minutes)
2. Mix together all remaining ingredients and blend well together.
3. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl. Dump in all dry ingredients at once. Start mixer on the lowest setting and let that run for 1 to 2 minutes. Then turn the mixer up to 2 (Kitchenaid) and mix an additional 3 to 4 minutes until the dough comes together.
4. Scoop out the dough onto a cookie sheet. (I used a 2 tsp/10 ml scoop) Let the scooped dough chill in the fridge for an hour so the butter has a chance to firm up again.
If baking right away:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Remove cookie dough from fridge and place on cookie sheet – spacing approx. 2 cm apart – these cookies don’t really spread so they don’t need a tonne of room, but you want enough room to be able to get your spatula in there to get them off the cookie sheet.
3. Bake for approximately 10 minutes (you some slight browning around the bottom edge of the cookies (although I don’t always get browning, look for the cookies to look “dried out” – they will get a sort of sheen to them when they go in the oven because of the butter and then they will start to look dried out.
4. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Let cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes before coating in powdered sugar. (I dump a bunch of powdered sugar into a bowl and drop approximately 4 cookies in at a time. No more than that as you don’t really want them breaking apart while you are doing this step).
5. Store in an air tight container for approx. 2 weeks. (I have gone longer than this and they were fine.)
1. Place the chilled cookie dough balls into a freezer bag that has been labled properly, with the type of cookie, the baking temperature and baking time written on the bag. Place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
2. When ready to bake, simply preheat your oven to 350°F and remove the cookie dough balls from the freezer, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. (no need to thaw)
3. Allow cookies to cool for 2 to 3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Let cool on cooling rack for 15 minutes before coating in powdered sugar.