Tropical Snowballs

Greg, Sippity Sup

I have sweet memories of these Christmas cookies. They’re an absolute holiday classic. Some people know them as Russian Tea Cakes. Here in California people call them Mexican Wedding Cakes. But my mom called them Snowballs.

My mom’s version was sweet and lemony. They were pleasantly rich too, with a melt on the tongue quality that I just loved as a kid. I know now that special texture came from using only REAL butter. Even in the 1970s, when “oleo” was all the rage, my mom insisted on REAL butter.

The version you see here is less sweet than my mom’s. I also gave mine a tropical flair she would never have dreamed of. But I live in California and these sweet memories of Christmas’ long past are as close to a REAL snowball as I care to get these days.

Tropical Snowballs

By Sippity Sup
Makes 3 dozen cookies


4 1/2 ounces macadamia nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus at least 1 1/2 cups more for coating
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon dark rum
2 cups flour, measured then sifted
1/4 cup candied ginger, finely diced


Place nuts into a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse nuts 5 or 6 times. Then run the machine about 10 seconds until the nuts are finely ground and beginning to clump together. You should have about 1-cup. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine butter, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, ground ginger, lemon zest, salt and rum. Run machine at medium until mixture is light and creamy. Add in flour, ground nuts and diced candied ginger. Run machine at medium-low until just combined, scrape the sides partway if needed. Cover and chill dough at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, place oven rack in center position and heat oven to 325°F.

Use a scoop to shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Arrange balls on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets about 1/2 inch apart. Bake on center rack of oven until cookies are set on top and beginning to brown on bottom, 18 to 20 minutes. Rotate baking sheets halfway through baking.

Gently transfer cookies to a rack and immediately dust them with some of remaining powdered sugar. Despite their name, they won’t be “balls” so don’t worry. Let them cool completely.

Once cool, place cookies into a large bowl filled with remaining powdered sugar. Toss and roll gently to coat on all sides. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

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  1. Clarissa Milla said:

    You won’t believe it, but I’m trying one recipe after the other. I’ll let you know how my bakingmania came out…In the meantime the Snowballs are delicious. TKS.