Hazelnut, Orange and Cacao Nib Snowball Cookies

WARNING: The recipe I’m about to share with you is known to cause obsessive thinking, weight gain, and sudden loss of willpower. Thoughts of jealousy, accusations of cookie theft, and constant discovery of powdered sugar messes have also been reported. Anyone under the age of 102 will require constant supervision until all cookies have been consumed.

I know it’s risky to introduce a cookie with a warning. Instead of putting you on edge, I should be enticing you with an inventive, ambrosial description that is sure to convince you to bake this recipe immediately, revel in its deliciousness, and tell all of your foodie friends about it. This time, however, I feel compelled to be brutally upfront.

For your own safety and peace of mind, you should move along and forget you ever heard of these Hazelnut, Orange, & Cacao Nib Snowball Cookies. Although similar in appearance, they are nothing like the simple sweet innocence of the Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes you’ve encountered before. All it takes is just one bite of these nefariously irresistible cookies and the damage has been done. Self-control will be a thing of the past.

These ridiculously addicting powdery temptations will test the very fiber of your being. It will take every ounce of your willpower and strength of mind to resist biting into these blissfully buttery cookies wrapped in a sweet blanket of powdered sugar. You can walk away from them, you can hide them from view, however, resistance is futile. Just the memory of past eaten cookies will be strong enough to shatter even the most resolute dieter’s resolve.

Buttery, chocolaty, and cloaked in an innocent-seeming layer of powdered sugar, these hazelnut snowball cookies are the ultimate temptation. Studded with bittersweet cacao nibs, flecks of bright orange zest, and a splash of bourbon for complexity, these shortbread-style cookies are melt-in-your-mouth delicious with the perfect balance of sweetness to make them irresistible. Unfortunately They are easy to make, use just a handful of ingredients, and are an ideal treat for anyone, friends and enemies alike, and any occasion where gaining a few pounds is acceptable.

The Hazelnut, Orange, & Cacao Nib Snowball Cookies will constantly tempt you into having “just one more.” Their insidious siren-like call never ceases and cannot be ignored. You have been warned. Good luck.

Hazelnut, Orange, & Cacao Nib Snowball Cookies

Yields 36 Cookies


1 1/3 cups (180 grams) hazelnuts, roasted

18 tablespoons (250 grams) butter, softened

2 cups (260 grams) powdered sugar, divided

Zest of 2 oranges

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups (330 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (65 grams) cacao nibs


Throw the roasted hazelnuts into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped (be careful not to process the nuts too long or you’ll end up with hazelnut butter).

Throw the butter, 1 cup (130 grams) powdered sugar, and orange zest into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter mixture until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the vanilla extract, bourbon (if using), salt, and ground hazelnuts to the bowl and mix on low speed until just combined. Throw the flour into the bowl and mix on low once more until just combined.

Gently fold in the cacao nibs by hand until just incorporated, being careful not to over-mix the dough.

Form the dough into a large ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour to firm up.

Preheat oven to 375° and line a large baking sheet with parchment.

Grab the dough from the fridge. Roll into 1 1/4-inch balls (about 25 grams each) and throw onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown on the bottom, about 16-18 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes.

Throw the remaining 1 cup powdered sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll the warm cookies in the sugar to coat on all sides then return to the warm baking sheet. Let the cookies cool for an additional 10 minutes then roll in the powdered sugar a final time.

Let cool completely on the baking sheet or a wire rack before serving.

A few things worth mentioning...

Walnuts and pecans are the traditional nuts used in snowball cookies, but I like the sweet, buttery flavor of hazelnuts best. Feel free to use whatever nut you prefer including almonds, macadamia, cashews, and pistachios.

For the best snowball cookie experience, it’s imperative that you roll the cookies while they’re still warm in the powdered sugar. The first layer of sugar melts into an almost frosting-like layer which is the perfect base for the second rolling of powdered sugar to adhere to.

Bourbon adds a delicious sweet, nutty, smoky, vanilla-y complexity to the cookie that I don’t recommend leaving out, however if you don’t like the idea of cooking with booze, feel free to leave it out.

These addicting little cookies never last long enough for me to test their longevity, however I imagine they will keep in an airtight container at room temperature.