In these cute Gingerbread Snowball Cookies, the typical buttery shortbread of a snowball is replaced with my easy gingerbread recipe to give them a truly festive flavour. There are some almonds in there for crunch and a generous coating of icing sugar finishes them off.
I call this an easy gingerbread recipe for a few reasons
- A one bowl dough
- No chilling
- No rolling out or cutting dough
- Finish by rolling them in some icing / powdered sugar
That’s it – cookies seriously don’t get easier and with all the festive spices you know and love – think cinnamon, allspice and ginger – you can’t help but feel more Christmassy with every bite.
What are snowball cookies?
Also known as Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes, snowball cookies are typically a buttery shortbread, filled with nuts and rolled in icing / powdered sugar.
Buttery and soft, they almost melt in your mouth and are totally delicious.
This gingerbread version is not a shortbread. It’s texture more resembles a normal gingerbread cookie – crisp edges, soft centre with a slight chewiness – but they’re every bit as delicious.
The gingerbread spice mix
Gingerbread is a classic combo of ground, aromatic spices like cinnamon, allspice and ginger. You can make a batch of gingerbread spice and keep it on hand and just a small amount will give anything that slight gingerbread flavour. But gingerbread isn’t all about the spices.
The other classic ingredients in gingerbread are treacle or molasses and brown sugar. Put all of that together and you have the rich gingerbread flavour you know and love.
How to make them, step by step
- I always start by whisking together my dry ingredients then set it aside. In this case, it’s flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and ginger.
- Next beat together butter, treacle and sugar until creamy.
- Now add egg yolk and vanilla. I only use a yolk for richness and a slight bind – no white necessary.
- Finally add in your dry ingredients and mix it to a dryish dough.
- In these cookies, I also add almonds but they are optional, then roll the dough into small balls.
- Bake them for about 8 minutes, before letting them cool and dusting them generously in icing sugar.
Tips and variations
- Make sure you roll small balls – no more than 2 teaspoons of dough each. This keeps them little and cute and only 1 to 2 bites each.
- Don’t overcook them or they’ll become dry. They will firm up on cooling.
- Wait for the cookies to cool before coating in sugar – otherwise the sugar will partially dissolve and melt and not look so good.
- Other nuts – snowball cookies with almonds are totally delicious but you can swap the almonds for your favourite nuts like pecans, walnuts, cashes – whatever you like.
- Gingerbread spice – you can use a bought gingerbread spice mix just use the same quantity as the combined spices in this recipe. Making your own spice mix gives you more control over the flavours you like most though and you could even add spices like nutmeg and ground cloves.
How long will these cookies keep and how to store them?
- Gingerbread will keep well for 7-10 days in an airtight container, in a cool place.
- Freezing: Whilst best fresh, you can freeze these cookies (if there are any leftover) in a plastic ziplock bag or airtight container for up to 2 months. You can also freeze the dough (my preferred method when freezing), already rolled into balls.
- Thaw: Thaw these cookies at room temperature for around ½ an hour and you may need to re-roll them in icing sugar. Thaw the balls of raw dough at room temperature for around 1 hour before baking.
If you’re planning on making cookie boxes for Christmas this year, these Gingerbread Snowball Cookies should be on the list. They’re easy to make and taste amazing – both very important factors in any Christmas baking adventure.
More Christmas Cookies you’ll love
Gingerbread Snowball Cookies
- 195 g plain (all purp) flour (1 ½ cups / 6.8oz)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarb)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon all spice
- 60 g unsalted butter (1/4 cup / 2oz)
- 60 g dark brown sugar (1/4 cup / 2.1oz)
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup treacle (or molasses)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup roughly chopped almonds (95g / 3.4oz)
- ½ cup icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / 160C fan forced. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Sift together, flour, spices and baking soda and set aside.
- Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the yolk and beat until fully incorporated. Add the treacle and beat well again.
- Add half of the flour mix and beat on very low until it just starts to clump. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until combined and clumping. Finally, add the almonds and mix until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth (only about 30 seconds).
- Roll small balls (about 2 teaspoons) and sit them 2 inches apart on the baking trays.
- Bake for 8-9 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cool, add the cookies to a plastic bag with the icing sugar and gently toss to coat. Transfer to a plate and serve.
- For best results you should always weigh ingredients like flour and sugar. Kitchen scales are relatively cheap but if you can’t weigh the ingredients, use the spoon and level method (don’t scoop).
- All ovens vary - check for doneness 2-3 minutes before the recipe suggests
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