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Black Walnut Snowball Cookies

black walnut snowball cookies

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Snowballs, Russian teacakes, whatever you call them, these were my favorite Christmas cookie when I was growing up, or rather, a version of these cookies were. My mum made them with regular walnuts and vanilla extract — that recipe is over at Elise’s site.  This is my adult, “I’m a forager” version that uses wild black walnuts, orange flower water and a little Grand Marnier.

Orange and walnut work well together, and the combination with the black walnuts — diamonds that make regular walnuts feel like rhinestones — and the orange flower water, plus the softness of the powdered sugar all make for a luxurious bite. They actually feel cooling in your mouth.

Make them in one-bite balls, as these cookies are crumbly. Oh, and while I give you a small recipe, fit for two people, this scales up perfectly to at least four times, so you can make enough to give as gifts.

Makes 16 cookies, and can be scaled up

  • 1 cup cake or Italian “oo” flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped black walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons orange flower water
  • 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 stick of butter (1/4 pound), cut into small pieces
  • Powdered sugar for dusting, about 1 cup


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients except the powdered sugar in a large bowl. Mix with your clean hands, mashing the dry ingredients with the butter until you get a mixture that looks like lumpy meal.
  3. Form the dough into little balls the size of a walnut and place on an ungreased sheet pan.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes. Take the cookies out and let them cool for 5 minutes or so. After they are cool enough to handle but still hot, roll them in the powdered sugar and set aside on a rack to cool. Then, when they are totally cool, roll them in powdered sugar one more time.

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