Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Karaoke and Cookies

This year has had its ups and downs with more than our fair share of downs, I would say. One of the pervasive issues has been my roommate's almost constant illness for which, after countless tests, the doctors still can't form an apt diagnosis nor an effective treatment plan. As she is often down for the count, that leaves me on my own a lot, and as a very gregarious and highly extroverted person, that is a real bummer.

So last summer, I auditioned for a musical revue at the college where I teach and made friends with lots of people in the large cast. I started going to karaoke with them one or even two nights a week, and then this semester, I performed with most of the same gang in Legally Blonde the Musical, which was a BLAST! Though I've had some tough times this year, the best and happiest moments have had one common denominator: I spent them with these amazing theatre geeks that welcomed me into their strange little family of friends, even though I am the decrepit old lady of the group. (Tee hee.)

Sadly, Cyd was sick again today, so I spent Christmas in the kitchen alone, baking cookies while listening to the Into the Woods soundtrack. But later, I will join my theatre pals to see Into the Woods, and then attend a special Christmas karaoke night. To show my appreciation to my friends for accepting me into their crazy gang, I wanted to make festive packages of homemade cookies for them. I could have made something very fancy, but I recently participated in a discussion on Facebook, and when asked to name their favorite Christmas cookie, almost everyone in the thread mention the same one, though by many different names: Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Butternuts/Butterballs, Polvorones, or Snowballs. So that's what I decided to make...with much love to friends at the holiday season.

Snowball Cookies
Source: Cooking Classy
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen (I only got about two dozen)

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I used a whole cup)
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar, for coating

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter on medium speed until creamy, about 20 seconds. Blend in 2/3 cup powdered sugar and salt. Mix in vanilla. Sprinkle cornstarch over mixture (just so it doesn't blend into one area), then with mixer set on low speed slowly add in flour and mix just until combine. Stir in pecans. 

Scoop dough out one tablespoon at a time and roll into a ball, then place balls on Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, until bottom edges are lightly golden (don't underbake these). Remove from oven and allow to cool several minutes then while cookies are still warm, pour two cups powdered sugar into a bowl and roll cookies in powdered sugar. Transfer to a wire rack to cool then once cookies are cool, roll in powdered sugar once more, this time to generously coat. Store cookies in an airtight container.

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