Tropical Snowball Cookies. Aka Coconut Lime Macadamia Snowball Cookies. Aka melt in your mouth cookie goodness.
Snowball cookies come in many flavors and names. They are often called Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes and most commonly made with pecans with almonds coming in at a close second. They are a nutty, buttery, sweet, melt in your mouth cookie that are so simple to make. I of course make mine with a tropical twist to them.
I made these cookies last year but never got to posting them before Christmas and I can’t tell you why I didn’t post them after. I have a never ending list of holiday cookies and these moved to the top for this year.
These cookies really couldn’t be easier to make. Make the dough, chill, roll into 1/2 ounce balls, bake, roll in powdered sugar. Eat!
How do you make snowball cookies?
Typically they are just 5 ingredients – flour, butter, sugar, nuts and salt. There are so many variations of these cookies. Some add corn starch, some add in vanilla or almond extracts, some have dried fruit added. The base recipe is really just a starting off point.
I take that recipe and swap out the traditional pecans for macadamia nuts, add in unsweetened, flaked coconut and a hefty dose of lime zest. I also add in a splash of vanilla extract along with my baking not so secret ingredient, cornstarch.
What does cornstarch do in cookie recipes?
Cornstarch is a great, staple ingredient to have on hand. Besides being a great way to thicken sauces, it helps keep cookies soft and tender and helps to keep them from spreading too much. I have found that cookie recipes using powered/confectioners sugar tend to spread more since the sugar melts faster. Cornstarch helps prevent that. As well as keep them tender.
For cookies such as these tropical snowball cookies and other shortbread type cookies, or cookies that use powdered/confectioners sugar in the recipe, I always add in a little cornstarch.
These cookies can end up rock hard from the dough being mixed to rolling into balls. Any over kneading of flour can result in more gluten production and a tougher baked good results. Cornstarch is the secret ingredient to make sure these little snowball cookies stay as soft as, well, snow.
Whenever I make cookies that are rolled in powdered sugar, I always roll them after cooling for 1-2 minutes and again when they are cool. This ensures that the powdered sugar sticks well to the cookies. When only rolling the cookies in the powdered sugar when they are completely cool, I have found the powdered sugar doesn’t stick as well.
Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack. Then roll again in the powdered sugar. These keep well in an air tight container for a few days or in the freezer. The cornstarch in these cookies helps them from becoming too hard when frozen if you are impatient like me and like to eat them straight out of the freezer instead of waiting for them to thaw. They are wonderful frozen and at room temperature.
Tips for making amazing snowball cookies:
- If using whole nuts, grind them with a little bit of the flour from the recipe. Don’t add more flour. This will help them from becoming nut butter. Trust me on this one. I have made nut butters way too often before using this trick. You can also do this with a little of the powdered sugar in place of the flour, I find that not every recipe that needs ground nuts calls for powdered sugar so I stick with using flour
- Cornstarch is your friend. Don’t skip this step. It’s important for tender, soft cookies
- Chill the dough before using. Then let thaw slightly so its easy to scoop out the dough to roll. You can make these right away after making the dough, but there is a chance they will spread a little more even with the cornstarch. I am all about chilling cookie doughs before baking.
- Instead of using a scoop for these, I weight out the dough on a food scale then roll. I use 1/2 oz per cookie. A scant tablespoon size. You can make them a little bigger, but I wouldn’t go any smaller
- Since these cookies don’t spread you can bake a lot on one cookie sheet at once. I use parchment paper for these cookies.
- Bake at 350 Deg F ( 177 C) for 10-15 min. I give a 5 min variation because some ovens run hot. Like mine does. I really need to get it adjusted. But. You don’t want to overbake, just bake until the bottom edges start to brown.
- 1 cup butter (8oz/226g)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (2 oz/60g)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 1/4 C all purpose flour (10 1/4 oz/290g)
- 1/2 tsp salt (2g)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts (2 1/2 oz/74g)
- 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut flakes 9 (1 3/4 oz/50g)
- 2 tsp lime zest
- For rolling:
- 2 cups powdered sugar (8 1/2 oz/240g)
- If the macadamia nuts you are using aren’t ground, take 1/4 cup of the flour and grind the nuts with it in a food processor of blender. Pulse a few times, don’t over blend.
- Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer. Whisk together the remaining ingredients then add to the mixer. Mix until just combined. It will be little crumbly but that is ok. Chill the dough in a bowl covered in plastic wrap/cling film for at least 2 hours.
- When ready to bake heat oven to 350 Deg F ( 177 Deg C) and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour powered sugar into a shallow bowl or dish
- Roll out scant tablespoon sized dough balls ( 1/2 ounce each) and place an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake between 10 and 15 minutes, you want the bottom edges to start to turn golden brown.
- Let cool for 2 minutes, then roll in powdered sugar, covering cookies completely. Cool the cookies all the way and roll again in the powdered sugar.
- These cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, in the freezer for a few months.