There’s fresh garland running down the stairs. It smells like cedar and pine. The fire is roaring, and the ground is covered by a thick layer of fluffy snow. The cacophony of shovels against the concrete is music to my ears. It’s my favorite time of year besides the craze, high expectations, and excess of Christmas. The start of winter makes me feel alive, and Christmas gives me the hives.
Yesterday the snow fell so slow it nearly plastered itself into the air. It took a whole day, 24 hours, to gather half a ruler’s worth. You couldn’t expedite it with a credit card if you tried. That’s what I love about winter, well, winter in Minnesota. It makes you slow down, if nowhere else but on the road.
I’ve spent the last year or so trying to do just that. Slow down. I operate better with less. I also operate on the economy of quality time, which I had a deficit. I started taking off nights and weekends, scheduling dinner with friends, and date nights at home with Kev. (Our date nights are nothing fancy—a game of speed, ping pong in the basement, or an episode of This is Us.) Even in the purposeful slowdown, I still wrestle with feeling lazy and uproductive, especially when I notice the speed most keep and the ‘Hustle’ posters above their desks. That’s probably why I start every email with an apology for my response time. If life were a track team, they’d cut me by now.
I think that’s why I have trouble with Christmas too. The standard pace and quantity of the holiday is too much. We don’t do many presents (plus I’m a horrible gift giver). And we’ve never done Christmas cards. If there’s a currency for Christmas outside of presents, it’s cards. Again, I should be cut from the team.
We’re trying to spend more intentional time together this season over presents and travel. We went on that carriage ride and took Hal out to dinner on a “date” afterwards. She thought it was the coolest. We saw Cinderella at the Children’s Theater and cut down a tree. We made a snowman, decorated a pre-assembled gingerbread house from Target (life saver), and have made several batches of these Snowball Cookies.
It’s no surprise I’ve fallen in love with these cookies. They remind me of my favorite thing—snow. They’re also a good reminder that simplicity tastes good. They come together with 4 ingredients (6 if you count the vanilla and salt). They melt in your mouth just like their namesake. For that very reason, I’ve scaled this recipe down to a small batch in case you have trouble stopping after one like me. Hal and I made an extra batch for the #calmandbrightcookienight hosted by The Modern Proper. They had me at calm. You can see all the cookie recipes this way.
To those who celebrate—how do you keep Christmas light and happy, thoughtful and intentional? Am I overthinking it all?
I originally worked on this recipe for the Kerrygold blog. Kerrygold butter makes for an extra flavorful cookie. If using, reduce baking time by 2-4 minutes and use cold Kerrygold butter.
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. powdered sugar, divided
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. finely crushed pecans
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the flour, pecans, and salt in a small bowl.
Turn off mixer and add in the flour mixture and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-low until everything is incorporated. Dough will look dry and rollable. Using a tablespoon-sized spring release scoop or a spoon, scoop tablespoon sized dough balls. Roll into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 14-16 minutes, removing before any browning occurs. The edge of the cookie should just start to feel crisp to the touch with some visible cracks when ready. Cookies harden as they cool. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
In a small bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Roll the top of each cookie in the powdered sugar. It will melt onto the cookie. Place on a serving platter or in an airtight container. Just before serving, add an additional light dusting of powdered sugar to the tops.