Sep 27, 2012

Almond Butter Balls

I think we have to talk about toasted nuts. Sometimes, when I have the time and frame of mind, I spend a lot of time toasting, skinning and stashing nuts in my pantry. All types, but mainly almonds and walnuts which I toast lightly, and hazelnuts which, in my opinion, are almost useless if they´re not toasted. Have you ever tried an un-toasted, skin-on hazelnut? Yeah, not goodIf in doubt, this hazelnut loaf will make it clear.

Toasting, in general, opens flavors. Such is the case with spices and seeds that are toasted in a skillet before going into a curry or something similar. I wouldn´t think of using sesame seeds in a salad without toasting them first. The same goes with the almonds in this recipe. I believe they make all the difference. Almost to the point of saying that it´s almost a different recipe without them. It´s fine to leave the skin on as long as you toast them.

These little sugar coated butter balls are the ultimate melt-in-your-mouth holiday cookie. Who doesn´t need a recipe for easy gifts? You can wrap them and give them as hostess´ gifts, or take them to whatever party you´re going where you don´t want to arrive empty handed. They are a crowd pleaser. Great with coffee, mulled wine or as an after dinner sweet bite.
Every year I decide to make homemade gifts to give to friends, and also to those working with me. Every year I fail, except for that one occasion years ago when I gave them boxes of oatmeal and chocolate cookies. They still remind me again every year, just in case I decide to honor my decision. Maybe this will be the year. And this is certainly a fitting recipe.
It´s similar to shortbread, so I can freeze it, giving me little space for blaming the hectic last months of the year for not following through with my gift-giving.

Today I´m joining a group that will bake and share twelve different Christmas recipes of our choosing. They will be treats involving some kind of sweet. It´s aptly called 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, because hey, that´s how close the most important holiday of the year is. The idea comes from Brenda and you can find all the details in her wonderful blog.

So, if you´re like me, you will have so many recipes for homemade baked ideas, that there will be no excuse to buy last-minute uninteresting gifts just because you have to. Or you can join the party and excuses will be unacceptable, because your freezer will be already stocked with sweet treats.

Before going into the oven

barely adapted from Kathleen´s Bake Shop Cookbook, by Kathleen King

1 cup butter, at room tº 
4 Tbs confectioners´ sugar

½ teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all purpose flour

¾ cup ground toasted almonds

Extra confectioners´ sugar, for coating

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add almond extract and beat well.
Add flour, 1 cup at a time and then the almonds. Mix just until smooth.
Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 350º. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Roll portions of cold dough between your palms to form balls. Place 1-inch apart on lined baking tray.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are a bit golden and cracked.
Let cool on a wire rack. Roll in some extra confectioners´ sugar to coat.
These cookies freeze well unbaked. When you need them, just line them up on a parchment-lined or greased baking tray, thaw, and bake.
Yields 3 to 4 dozens, depending on the size


  1. LOVE these cookies!!! One of my absolute favorites! Paula, you make me want to go make a batch this second! Great photos showing how delicious they truly are!

  2. You should have called them HEAVENLY Almond Butter Balls. Absolutely scrumptious!

  3. These look so good! And easy to make too! Great recipe!

  4. OMG ... Can't believe the holidays are almost upon us :-)

  5. I'm already excited for Christmas cookies! Yum!

  6. Omg Christmas treats are already rolling around YAY! These look delicious :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. Oh these sound wonderful - great flavors - just love it!
    Mary x

  8. I made these with pecans and LOVE them! Your photos are beautiful!

    PS...thanks so much for letting me know about your pumpkin made me feel better :)

  9. I love these cookies! I eat a variation of these every year at Christmas. Yours look perfect all coated in the icing sugar.

  10. Love the look of these. This is my first time here and I can't wait to see more of u'r blog!

  11. Really amazing cookies for holidays! They look like cute snowballs!

  12. These remind me of a little cookie my grandma used to make but slightly different...simple and delicious too with the almonds I'm sure! Glad you're part of the hop this year.

  13. Paula, I am impressed - you plan way ahead, I have not even started to think about baking Christmas cookies yet and you already posted about them! This recipe sounds really good and your cookies are perfectly and evenly shaped.

  14. These look fantastic! Great photos too!

  15. Paula, These look fantastic and I’m so impressed that you keep toasted nuts on hand…I have to get more organized! I really can’t think of Christmas cookies yet…I will be in Florida for the month of October.

  16. I make almond crescents that are similar only I don't toast the almonds. Looking forward to baking with you.

  17. I make almond crescents with chopped almonds but they aren't toasted. These look lovely.

  18. I raise my glass in a toast to toasting nuts! It really does bring out the flavor so much! These little butterballs look amazing. Merry September! (Now Merry October!) ~ David

  19. These would be perfect for a Christmas goodie tray! I love almond flavoring in cookies.

  20. Looks yummeeeee. Thanks for this lovely food.


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