Hamde Uncle is a sporadic yet regular visitor. He visits almost every year from Bangladesh.
He adores my voice and I have been talking to him about bangla folk tracks to include in my singing venture whenever that materialises. We'd play scrabble over Facebook, share anecdotes, talk endlessly. He's visiting again!
This Sunday afternoon while we were lazing around, I lamented the lack of inspiration to bake while I was dying to, since my office work had JUST eased up and as he half snoozed through his cup of tea he exclaims "Oh the Russian tea cookies my mother's friend used to get us while we were at Princeton! Those were most delightful. Do you know how to make them?" Make them? This was the first I was hearing of them.
Fortunately I subscribe to plenty of online food blogs that send in posts via email every day. I neatly keep filing them away, never used any. I just tried an inbox search and Voila! What do you know!!? Snowballs, commonly known as Mexican wedding cookies or Russian tea cakes pops up by Brown Eyed Baker.
Excited we start the process. He gets me a bag of roasted, salted, Cashews since we didn't have any Pecans the recipe asked for and less than an hour later, Abracadabra!
Unbelievably scrumptious, snowballs were ready! He was elated to find them exactly the same taste as the ones he had through his teens. Mission accomplished. One happy guest.
So here's to celebrating those around me or the ones I come across. And food of course.
Don't forget baking!!
Here's the much celebrated recipe at ours from Brown Eyed Baker
Yield: About 48 cookies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
A recipe for Snowball Cookies, shortbread-style cookies loaded with nuts and rolled in powdered sugar. They're also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cookies.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans, divided
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ cups powdered sugar, for rolling cookies after baking
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
2. Mix the flour, 1 cup of the chopped pecans, and the salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Place the remaining chopped nuts in a food processor and process until they are the texture of coarse cornmeal, 10 to 15 seconds; stir into the flour mixture and set aside.
4. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until the dough just begins to come together but still looks scrappy, about 15 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl again and continue beating at low speed until the dough is cohesive, about 10 more seconds.
5. Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands and place on the prepared baking sheets. The cookies will only spread a little bit, so you can place them fairly close together. Bake until the tops are pale golden and the bottoms are just beginning to brown, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.
6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
7. Place the powdered sugar in a large zip-top bag. Working with 3 or 4 cookies at a time, place them in the bag of sugar and gently toss to coat them thoroughly. Gently shake off any excess. Allow the cookies to sit for at least an hour, or up to overnight, and then repeat the process. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
(Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)