I’m not sure when I became such a cookie fan. I think probably it had something to do with Smitten Kitchen’s Margarita Cookies. Or maybe my friend Dale, the Cookie Queen. She and her husband Chip (yes, Chip and Dale) are rugelach masters. And Dale usually has an assortment of cookies in her freezer when you go to their house.
Dale bought me Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: from My Home to Yours, which includes favorites like World Peace cookies, Chockablock cookies and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chipsters. Apparently SK’s Deb Perelman adapted her Margarita Cookies from Dorie’s recipe (but you knew that, didn’t you, because you read all about the cookies on this blog).
I am having a really difficult time trying to decide on my current favorite. Every time I make a new recipe I’m convinced that one is my new favorite (i.e., Potato Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Pomegranate Chocolate Chip Cookies) and now Cashew Butter Balls from SK. A little like Mexican Wedding Cookies. (Which, btw, are called polvorones in Mexico. There’s a cooking show I catch occasionally called Pati’s Mexican Kitchen. Pati was born and raised in Mexico City. She posted a recipe for the cookies, but said she had never heard them called Mexican Wedding Cookies until she moved to the US. She says she didn’t have them at her wedding or at any other Mexican wedding she’s ever attended! Lol.)
Okay. I digress. Again. So when I brought the Cashew Butter Balls to work to share, one person called them “Russian Tea Cakes”. Another “Powdered Nut Balls”. All are basically the same recipe, only this one is made (obviously) with cashews and I love cashews. Could be my new favorite. Lol.
Cashew Butter Balls
Makes about 40 cookies
1 cup raw cashews
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon table salt, or a heaped 1/4 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened slightly, cut into chunks
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350°F and toast cashews in a single layer until a shade darker, about 10 to 12 minutes. About halfway through the toasting time, toss the nuts around to redistribute them for even coloring. Let cool completely.
Place cooled cashews, flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor and grind the mixture to a fine powder. Pour mixture into a bowl and set aside briefly.
Add butter and only 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar to the empty food processor and run the machine until the mixture is creamy and combined. Add the vanilla and mix. Add the nut-flour mixture and pulse the machine until it is just combined. Scrape the soft cookie dough back into the bowl that held the nut-flour mixture, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it until firm, about an hour.
[Do ahead: You can chill it in the fridge for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for longer.]
Heat your oven back to 300°F. Place remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar in a wide bowl. Using your hands, scoop tablespoon-sized (about 1-inch round) balls of the chilled cookie dough into your palms and quickly roll them into little balls. Place them evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet an inch apart. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until they feel dry on the outside, but still quite soft. (Don’t fret!)
Let cool on sheets for a few minutes, then gently roll the hot cookies in the powdered sugar before transferring them to racks to cool completely.
Cookies keep in an airtight container for at least a week, probably two, though never at my place. They can be frozen for as long as you trust your freezer. They occasionally benefit from a fresh coating of powdered sugar before serving.