Mama’s always called these cookies tea cakes, but they are also known as Mexican wedding cookies, butternuts, butterballs, and snowballs. I don’t care what you call them, they are good. Mama likes to make them so you can just pop them in your mouth, “not that big, but not so scrawny that they look undernourished.” As if.


  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 Cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 Teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 Cup confectioners’ sugar, for rolling


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking liner or parchment paper.

Step 2

In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the flour, pecans, and salt, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended. Using a small ice cream scoop, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1½ inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Step 3

Bake until the bottoms of the cookies are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. While still warm, roll the cookies in the confectioners’ sugar until evenly coated. Transfer to a wire rack set on top of a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Brilliant Presentation: Shape into Tartlet Shells

The cookie melts in your mouth in a flood of sugared butter. A Brilliant addition to your dessert repertoire is to use the dough for a tartlet base. Place about ¼ cup dough in a 4-inch tartlet shell. Smooth the bottom and sides. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Fill with Pastry Cream or whipped cream and top with fruit. Serve immediately. Makes 12.