I have fond memories of trips to the local bakeries in Kerala . Bakeries were not as ubiquitous as the tea stalls , which you could find at least one in every few kilometers . All small towns had these family owned shops with glass display cases beckoning children . They all displayed the same standard fare – biscuits , puffs , plum cake , buns , etc – with a few regional variations . Very rarely were the goods baked on the premises , but on the days the fresh batch arrived the aromas used to waft through the air . Fond memories indeed …
One of my favorites was the lightly crunchy ball shaped cookies dusted with powdered sugar . I think they were a variation of the ever popular nan kattai . I have seen similar ones from around the world , like the Mexican wedding cookies and the crescent shaped Italian ones , with a bit more texture . I am not sure what these cookies were called. As a child I just had to point to the jar containing them …
I was not sure if my kids are going to like them as well as I did . Very often we try to recreate things from our memories and it just does not feel the same . To my delight this one did go well with the children and the adults . Here it is.
Bring the 1/2 cup butter to room temperature . Cream it well with 1/2 C fine sugar. At room temperature it takes only a minute or so to mix and get the light fluffy cream texture . One really does not need a mixer unless planning to bake in large quantities . Add the vanilla extract and mix well . Sift 2 cups of All Purpose or pastry flour with a pinch of salt . Finely chop the almonds leaving a few coarse chunks in it . If the almonds are raw toast it lightly . Add the flour and the chopped almonds to the butter sugar mixture . Mix gently with as few turns as possible scraping the sides of the bowl as well . The mixture will have a coarse breadcrumb texture . Scoop a small amount in the palm of your hand and roll into a ball . If it does not hold together , which could happen depending on the water content of your flour as well as butter and one tablespoon of oil/softened butter/milk and try again .
Roll into lime sized balls . Arrange them in a tray , cover and refrigerate for about an hour . If you are not planning to bake them immediately you can keep these in the fridge for a couple of days . These can be frozen as well for longer storage .
Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C . Arrange the balls 3 inches apart and bake for around 15 minutes till the bottoms turn light brown . You can also roll the cookies in powdered sugar before baking for a glazed look . Cool the cookies in the pan for a minute , remove and cool completely on a cooling rack . Roll them in powdered sugar . Store them in an airtight jar.
Almond Snow Balls
- 1/2 C Butter softened
- 1/2 C Fine Sugar
- 1 Tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 C All Purpose Flour
- 1/8 Tsp Salt 1 pinch
- 3/4 C Almonds chopped
- 1 C Confectioner's sugar
- Make sure that all ingredients are at room temperature.
- In a medium bowl cream butter and sugar. Add Vanilla extract and mix well.
- Sift the flour and salt together. Finely chop the almonds, leaving a few small chunks , using a food processor or by hand .
- Add the flour and almonds to the butter mixture and mix uniformly well scraping the sides after every few turns.
- Roll into lime sized balls Arrange in a container cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
- Bake for 15 minutes or till the cookie bottoms begin to brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for a minute .
- Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
- Roll the cookies in powdered sugar .
- Store in an airtight container .
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.