Traditionally, my absolute favorite cookie of the Christmas season are the “Butterballs” my mother has always made (and only makes at Christmas). It’s a yearly race to get to my parents house the day she announces she has baked them to see if I can get a few before my father eats them all (they are also HIS absolute favorite).
Mom always scolds us both for eating them up as soon as they are done, and we always just reply that she should not make us wait for one single day each year! These cookies also go by the moniker “Russian Tea Cakes” or “Mexican Wedding Cakes” and normally feature either walnuts or pecans. My kids, however, have not yet acquired the taste for walnuts or pecans, so I was pretty excited to find this version of the classic cookie using orange zest in place of nuts. They smell wonderful and got a thumbs-up rating from my kids.
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Confectionary sugar + 3/4 cup sifted for rolling
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2 cups Flour
1/8 tsp salt
Blend together the butter, orange zest, salt, vanilla and 1/2 cup confectionary sugar until creamy. Blend in the flour. Take small amounts of dough and roll between your palms to create 1” balls. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are golden. Remove from oven, let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, but while still warm remove and coat each thoroughly with confectionary sugar. I do this by filling a bowl with the sugar then dropping a few cookies in at a time and using a spoon to roll them around and cover them with the powdered sugar.
* adapted from A Very Merry Cookie Party http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0811866750