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A Holiday Memory: Pecan Butterballs
cap, captain miss america

When I was a little girl, my mother was one of those Kitchen Goddess moms, the ones who made ten or twelve kinds of cookies for Christmas, as well as fudge and sometimes some other candies. Christmastime, or the time leading up to Christmas, was an absolutely magical time for me, and I would arrive home from school every day to discover new delicacies stored neatly in containers and tins, new smells wafting from every corner. But the best part was that once school was over for the day and homework was done, it was time to help. There was something even more magical about practicing the alchemy that created the treats we would serve and give away to friends and family.

Now, we’ve cut back quite a lot. We don’t have big parties or huge family get-togethers anymore, and for the most part, we don’t really miss them. But there are a few kinds of cookies that we make every year, no matter what, although maybe in smaller quantities than we made when I was a child. (There is a note on one recipe, hand-written by my mother, from the year I graduated high school: 1996, 6 recipes= 375 cookies.) These are the cookies that make Christmas Christmas for me. They don’t really make an appearance the rest of the year, but at Christmastime, they are on every tray. They might not be the shiniest or prettiest or most colorful cookies, but they’re the ones that taste the best, or remind me the most of happy family times.

The cookbook shows above is the 1966 Woman’s Day Cookie Cookbook. It’s torn apart (missing the back cover), dogeared, yellowed, and covered in ballpoint-pen-notes. We don’t use it for much, apart from one very special recipe.

Pecan Butterballs, adapted from Women’s Day Cookie Cookbook, 1966
Recipe Type: Cookie
Author: Tea
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 45 mins
These are one of my favorite cookies to make at holiday times. Light, buttery and not too sweet.
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Let butter soften– do not melt.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a mixer at lowest speed until well-blended.
  3. Cut soft butter into tablespoon-sized rectangles. Add pieces to dry mixture a few at a time and mix well.
  4. Once all butter is in mixture, set mixer to medium speed and mix until everything is well-blended.
  5. Add pecans, a cup at a time, to mixture and blend in well.
  6. Roll dough into 1″ spheres and put on ungreased cookie sheets.
  7. Cook for 25 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Take off tray immediately– cookies will be very soft, so work carefully or they will crumble in your hands.
  9. Leave to cool several hours, preferably overnight.
  10. Put about 2 dozen cookies at a time in a large bowl.
  11. Sift powdered sugar over cookies, then stir cookies around with hands until well-coated.
  12. Store in cookie tins with layers of wax paper between.

This recipe makes about 50 cookies. I tend to make two recipes or more.

Mirrored from Nommable!.

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These are very similar to a recipe my mother used to make of what she called "Mexican Wedding Cakes", although that recipe uses walnuts instead of pecans. But they were prepared the same way and rolled in confectioner's sugar after cooled, just like these.

To be honest, I'd probably rebrand those cookies as "Walnut Butterballs" if I were to make them today.

I have a book with a recipe called "Mexican Wedding Cakes" that is almost identical to this one, too-- I've used it a couple times when I couldn't find the recipe I've recreated here. They're also served traditionally at Italian weddings, too.

I just realised that these are the cookies my partner's family calls "Moldy Mice".

I, uh, can't help but think "Butterballs" is the way to go here.

That book is from 1966??? Wow. The cover doesn't look nearly dated or cheesy enough.

(the insides, sort of, but even Joy of Cooking still looks like that!)

I made these precise cookies today with this recipe (without the sparkly sugar), and they turned out so, so good! Yours look utterly delicious.

Hi, it's frog_rocket on my other journal and _samalander sent me here :3

Oh, hey! I recognize this name, too. You must be doubly awesome! And sweet, yes, that looks like almost the same exact recipe. The sparkly sugar is a neat idea.

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