“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by the choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos”
– The Christmas Song
We are nearing that time of the year again.
That time of the year where the whole world seems more vivid, more colourful, more alive and perhaps more exciting to live in.
Is it the promise of holidays, food and gifts that makes everything seem so much more cheerful? Or is it the notion that the year has been is finally coming to a close, and so the promise of something new ahead fills us with hope?
Whatever it is, I love it.
I love this time of the year. The food, the photos, the increased tolerance everyone seem to have for the people around them.
But unlike the norther hemisphere, its summer here.
No snow in sight (though even in winter, all Melbourne ever brings is ice and never snow), no freezing weather to make the vision of a warm mug of a hot chocolate appealing, nothing to make it seem remotely like the Christmas I grew up watching in the movies.
So I bring myself snow in the form of these cookies/biscuits. Tender and warm, coated in a generous amount of icing sugar. All fragrant and reminiscent of chestnuts over a roaring fire. Perfect with a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
And despite the amount of sugar coating the outside of the cookie (though this seems more like a biscuit to me), the insides are only slightly sweetened to balance out the dusting of sugary snow.
And those toasted pecans, as tempted as you may be to leave them out, they bring about that extra hit of toasted notes, and more importantly, the tiny bits of crunch for texture. So please include them. They are worth the extra step.
These are relatively easy and quick to make. So bake yourself some and consume it when it’s slightly warm and imagine that comforting fireplace in winter cocooning you from the snow.
Here is the first in a series of Christmas recipes that will be coming your way over the following weeks…
Roasted Chestnut and Pecan Snowballs
Makes approximately 23
What you’ll need
- 35g pecans (toasted and cooled)
- 95g roasted chestnuts* (flesh only)
- 125g unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 65g icing sugar (sifted) + more to coat
- 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 1/8tsp salt
- 1/8tsp nutmeg
- 1/4tsp cinnamon
- 165g AP flour
- Process the toasted pecans into coarse pieces in a food processor. The bigger the pieces, the more crunch you’ll get, but in this case, small bits are preferable.
- In a food processor, process the chestnuts until you get a flour like consistency.
- In a stand mixer bowl, beat the butter and icing sugar on med-high for 4-5mins until its nice and fluffy with the paddle attachment.
Scrape the bowl a couple of times midway to ensure that its evenly mixed in.
- Lower speed to med-low and add the spices, salt, vanilla extract, chestnuts and pecan and beat until combine. Scrape the bowl and continue to beat for another 30 seconds.
- Lower speed to low and add the flour in 2 additions making sure its 80% incorporated before adding the next part.
- Place in fridge for 2 hours (or overnight) to allow it to firm up enough to make it easy handle.
- Scoop the dough into 20g portions and place on a lined baking tray.
(roughly the amount of a slightly heaping small cookie scoop)
- Preheat oven to 175C.
- Roll the divided portions into round balls and place them 2 inches apart as these cookies will spread slightly.
- Bake for 13-15 mins and let cool on the baking tray for 3mins.
- Whilst waiting, sift 1/2 cup of icing sugar into a bowl.
- Toss the cookies one at a time into the bowl to coat, then place them back on the (probably still warm) baking tray.
You just want a light dusting at this stage.
- Let the cookies rest for 5 mins. The icing should have melted slightly from the warmth of the cookies but would have started to set up.
Toss the cookies one at a time in the icing sugar again to layer on the second coating.
- Let cool fully on a wire rack (or you can just start munching on them if you are like me).
- Store in a airtight container for up to 1 week*.
- You can roast your own chestnuts fresh or purchase them freshly roasted from a street side vendor if you are lucky and live in Asia.
But if you struggle to find roasted chestnuts, packaged ones will work as well. Just make sure that they are 100% plain roasted chestnuts and not flavoured. I usually find them at the Asian grocers, or if you have a Daiso near you, they might sell them too (at least the Melbourne ones do).
- The cookies will soften slightly as time pass but they will still be delicious and I actually prefer them softer.