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Brian Boyd, Editor, Shore Publishing/Zip06.com
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The countdown begins this time of year. It's not a countdown to Christmas or the end of the old year and the start of a new one. In fact, I'm not even the one doing the counting. That would be my colleagues at Shore Publishing.
About eight years ago, I did a wonderfully foolish thing: I brought a very large sheet cake-sized box full of cookies and candies into the office a few days before Christmas. I enjoy baking, and I wanted to share some treats with my officemates. And while everyone did enjoy the cookies and candies I carted in, here it is eight years later and I'm preparing to bring in yet another oversize box of sweets. It's become a yearly (and much anticipated) tradition. Over the last few years I've added new cookie types and stopped making others. One of the newer additions is a cookie my family has enjoyed for years but I'd never made myself.
My family calls them "snowballs" but I've heard them referred to as Swedish butter cookies and Russian Tea Cakes. Whatever name they go by, they're quite tasty.
1 cup butter at room temperature
½ cup sifted confectioner's sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup finely chopped toasted nuts (I use either almonds or walnuts)
Confectioner's sugar (for rolling cookies in)
In a large bowl, cream butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Sift in flour and salt; stir until well mixed. Mix in nuts. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Tip: A small ice cream scoop is perfect for making uniform-sized cookies.
Place dough balls onto ungreased cookie sheets with about 1-inch of space between them. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly on wire cooling racks.
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