Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs

December 27, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I love the pecan shortbread cookies that go by various names, and when I saw this variation with two of my favorite flavors, I knew I had to make them!  I followed the recipe with a couple of minor adaptations.  Instead of using instant espresso powder, I used Starbucks new Via instant coffee, Vienna Roast.  It was perfect – each little packet is one teaspoon and it is plenty flavorful without dominating.  At first I thought the cookies were a little dry, but the next day they were superb!  I made these and the traditional ones, Grandma’s Butter Balls, on the same day and it’s hard to decide which I like better!  Many taste tests have ensued, with inconclusive results, making me think that more taste tests are required :-). One thing we can say is that both are outstanding with a cup of coffee or tea.

Yield:  2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size

2 sticks softened unsalted butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped pecans (I use the low-tech nut grinder shown in the Grandma’s Butter Ball post)

Confectioners’ sugar, for coating

Preheat the oven to 325°.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour, cocoa, espresso powder and salt until thoroughly blended. Mix in the pecans – I do this with my hands to make sure they are evenly incorporated.

Working in batches, roll the dough into balls about the size of walnuts and place on 2 cookie sheets – about 2 inches apart.  Bake one batch at a time on the center oven rack for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are dry and the cookies are slightly firm to the touch.  Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack.  Roll in confectioners’ sugar to coat and place on a serving plate.  I recommend rolling in confectioner’s sugar a second time about an hour later to completely coat them.

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