I’ve received many gifts from my Grandma O’Neill over the years, including these Candy Cane Snowball Cookies.
Writing this post is incredibly bittersweet to me, because Grandma O’Neill passed away last Sunday, after a long and difficult battle with Parkinson’s disease.
The last time I called her was to tell her that I’d made a batch of snowball cookies inspired by a recipe of hers.
She was too ill to talk at the time, but her caretaker assured me that she’d heard me and was smiling.
I am incredibly blessed to have grown up seeing all four of my grandparents every single week.
Every Sunday after church, my dad would take my sisters and me over to Grandma and Grandpa’s, where our afternoons followed a specific pattern: arrive and give hug; raid Grandma’s special Starburst dish; proceed to quality test whatever else Grandma had baked that day (hopefully her fluffy Snickerdoodles or Swedish Tea Cakes).
I credit my grandmothers for my love of baking and sweets, and after years of begging, one Christmas my Grandma gave her family one of the best gifts we’ve received: a cookbook of her treasured recipes.
Accomplishing this book was no small feat.
In addition to gathering the recipes from assorted slips of paper strewn throughout the house and documenting the mental adjustments she’d made over time, Grandma also had to learn to use Microsoft Word and convince family members along the way to help her type the recipes on the days when her Parkinson’s disease was not cooperating.
Her cookbook, which she affectionately named Lovin’ From The Oven, took my Grandma the better part of a year to complete.
Whenever I need inspiration, I flip though Grandma’s cookbook.
A few weeks ago, I was out of fresh ideas for Christmas cookies, so I turned to her book, where I spied her recipe for Swedish Tea Cookies, one of my childhood favorites, complete with her handwritten edit. (Don’t forget the flour!)
About These Peppermint Snowball Cookies
Swedish tea cakes are a cookie of many names, including Mexican wedding cookies, snowball cookies (the name I’m using today, since it sounds the most holiday-ish), Russian Tea Cakes, and probably a few I haven’t heard yet.
My family mostly calls these snowball cookies “Grandma’s bomb butter powdered sugar cookies.”
Yes, my family still uses “bomb” as an adjective.
And yes, Grandma’s snowball cookies/Swedish tea cakes/Mexican wedding cookies/whateveryouwanttocallthem are bomb.
These candy cane snowball cookies follow Grandma’s original recipe, with a few festive updates.
- Instead of rolling the snowball cookies in the traditional powdered sugar, I dunked them in melted white chocolate, then sprinkled crushed candy canes over the top.
- The combination of white chocolate with the crunchy candy canes is reminiscent of peppermint bark (one of my favorite holiday treats), and a touch of peppermint extract added to the dough ups the candy cane cookies’ flavor.
- In place of walnuts (what Grandma usually used, though her recipe only specifies “nuts”), I used almonds, as I felt their smoother flavor would be a more natural combination with the white chocolate.
After tasting them, I honestly think the cookies could go either way (almonds or walnuts), so feel free to use whichever nut you prefer.
I baked these candy cane snowball cookies and planned this post for today, prior to my Grandma’s death.
I had no idea that I would lose her in the meantime, and that I’d be writing this post in honor of her memory.
I’m not going to read much into the timing, except to say that I’m grateful for the opportunity to share about the wonderful woman that she was.
I am immeasurably blessed to have grown up knowing a woman as strong, generous, and loving as she was, and to be able to stay connected to her through her recipes.
How to Store These Peppermint Cookies
- To Store. Store leftover cookies an an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
More Delicious Holiday Cookie Recipes
- Perfect Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
- Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Melt in Your Mouth Orange Cookies with Cranberries
Grandma, thanks for teaching me to love by your example.
If there’s a heaven, I know that you are in it.
I hope you are enjoying a big ol’ plate of snowball cookies with a glass of wine right now and keeping an eye on your 35+ grandchildren. We miss and love you, and we always will.
Candy Cane Snowball Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup toasted almonds, pecans, or walnuts, toasted and finely ground (I used almonds and love the way their flavor turned out with the white chocolate. My grandma used pecans)
- 6 ounces chopped white chocolate or white chocolate candy melts, do not use white chocolate chips as they contain stabilizers and may not melt properly, and ensure that cocoa butter is the primary ingredient in the brand you select
- 2/3 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies, I crushed mine in a food processor
- With an electric mixer, beat the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the flour and salt, then the nuts until evenly blended. Divide the dough in half, form each half into a disk, then wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. With a cookie scoop or spoon, portion the dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Place the balls 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are just set but not yet brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely (if you would like to roll some of the cookies in powdered sugar to make a traditional version of snowball cookies without the chocolate and peppermint, do so now while the cookies are still warm. Leave any cookies you’d like to top with chocolate plain and let cool.)
- In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the white chocolate. Ensure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and that the water doesn’t bowl. Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in the microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring between each and watching carefully so that the chocolate doesn’t burn. When the chocolate is nearly melted, remove it from the heat (or microwave) and stir until smooth.
- Dip the tops of the cookies into the white chocolate, then immediately sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies while the chocolate is still wet. Transfer to a plate to let the chocolate set. Enjoy!
- Store leftover cookies an an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Join today and start saving your favorite recipes
Create an account to easily save your favorite recipes and access FREE meal plans.Sign Me Up
Just for fun: here are my Grandma and Grandpa, circa 1960. Weren’t they a beautiful couple? My Grandpa passed away four months ago, so it’s comforting to hope that they are holding hands again.
Sorry to hear about your grandma. What wonderful memories you have of her. It’s so nice that she worked so hard on putting her recipes together in a book as well for you and your family. Thanks for sharing this cookie recipe. I love peppermint bark so this is definitely on my to make list for the holidays.
Alicia, I will treasure her recipes always, as well as the memories of her. Thank you so much for your kind words. If you try the recipe, I hope you love them!
It’s so special that you’re able to remember your grandma in this way through her recipes. I love that food allows us to do that. She sounds like she was an absolutely lovely woman – and what a full life she lived! 35 grandchildren – how amazing! Love you…the offer still stands if you need anything at all. xo
Rachel, I can’t believe how lucky I am, and she was AMAZING. Thank you so much<3
Erin, my condolences on losing your Grandma. It sounds like she was wonderful and left all of you a beautiful legacy. Cherish that cookbook :)
I will TinaLouise! Truly, thank you for your kind words. They mean more than I can say.
I’m so sorry for your loss, Erin. I was blessed to know my two grandmothers as well as two of my great grandmothers as I was growing up, so I can well imagine how acutely you feel it. Thank you for sharing one of her special recipes with us.
Thank you so much! That is so special that you knew not only your grandmothers, but your great grandmothers too. We are lucky indeed.
I’m thinking of you sweet friend. I know how much of a gift it can be to have recipes from a grandparent, so I know you will cherish those for years and years to come. Many hugs to you! xoxo
I’m thinking of you sweet friend. I know how much of a gift it can be to have recipes from a grandparent, so I know you will cherish those for years and years to come. Many hugs to y
Thank you so much Abby! <3
Yummy! Everything that tastes peppermint is delicious!
How lucky you have been to have a close relationship with your grandparents all your life. And now, you have that special book of your grandma’s recipes to help her live on in your family. My sympathies to you on your loss.
Elaine, thank you so much for your kind words. I was truly, truly blessed to know such wonderful people, and I am to have the recipes too!
Lovely post, Erin. Your Grandma is probably smiling right now. How wonderful to have a whole cookbook of her recipes. I have a few handwritten recipes of my Mom’s which are precious as she has had Alzheimers for a few years now. She was also quite a cook.
Barbara, I believe she is smiling too, and the recipes are such a treasure. I love that you have some of your mom’s too!
What a nice tribute to your grandma. It’s great that you will remember her through her recipes. These cookies look wonderful.
Thank you Terri. I appreciate your kind words so much!
I’m so sorry for your loss–your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman. How wonderful that were able to spend so much time with her throughout your life. Oh and grandmas ALWAYS make the best cookies and these are no exception!
Erin, thank you so much for your kind words. I was truly blessed to know my grandma, and she really did make the best cookies too!
What an absolutely beautiful legacy your Grandmother left behind. I know that cookbook would be treasured between your family. Thank you for sharing such a gorgeous and meaningful recipe. Pinned!
Jessica, you are right—we are truly so blessed by the cookbook, and also by the example of my Grandma’s life. Thank you for your words. They mean a lot!
These look stunning! I feel like holiday recipes always have a story behind them or a family tradition :)
Oh Erin, I’m so sorry for your loss. We are working through what it’s like to have a family member with Parkinson’s, and to know that she wrote that book for you guys with that disease shows just how dedicated and loving she was. Praying that you and your family have time to truly celebrate her life :)
Heather, thank you so much for your kind words, and I’m sorry to hear that you have a family member battling Parkinson’s too. No matter what happened, she maintained a part of herself through her positive attitude and determination, and I hope the same for your loved one. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. They mean more than I can say!
Erin, I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Grandmothers hold a special place in our hearts. I was blessed to have my mother’s mother, my Babci. She was so very warm and loving and made such yummy warm comfort food. Your grandmother created so many memories for you to hold onto. Her love of good food very obviously became a part of you, so you will no doubt have many happy remembrances each time you bake. Hugs and love.? I will try these cookies in honor of your grandma.
Diane, your Babci sounds like such a wonderful woman, and you are right that I have beautiful memories to treasure. Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean the world! I hope you love the cookies too.
Hi, this is the first post I received since I subscribed. I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Mine passed away a few years ago at 99. She was a wonderful cook, ran a bakery for much of her life, and was the glue that held our family together. One of her son-in-laws just died on 11/20 as well. The timing of your post is so nice in helping me to remember her. Thank you.
Laura, thank you so much for this kind note and for sharing a little about your Grandmother too. She sounds like a wonderful woman—we are lucky to have had such amazing women in our lives!
Grandmas teach us the most wonderful things. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
A new family favorite!
YAY, so glad to hear it. Thanks for letting me know Janice!
Oh these are so, so, SO delicious! And really pretty easy to make, too! I did burn a couple on the bottom (I’m not the best baker) but most of them came out sooooooo well. I’m so glad I made these!
So happy to hear that Margaret, thank you!
I was wondering if the dough could be made ahead of time and then frozen to be made closer to Christmas?
Hi Diane! I’ve never frozen them myself, but doing a quick search online it looks like you can freeze snowball cookies prior to baking. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to know how it turns out!