Black Pepper Cashew Butter Balls

Welcome back to Cookie Monday! Enjoy this week’s installment:

This recipe title is the sort that makes my brother groan. While visitng Portland, he lamented the lack of normal dessert flavors amongst coconut curry ice cream, goat cheese custards, and habanero jams, saying things like “What’s wrong with cookie dough ice cream?” To be fair, I am mostly on board with this grievance. I like my desserts to be exclusively chocolate and sugar filled, and I want savory food that is composed of, well, only savory ingredients. I would not like any bittersweet chocolate on my arugula salad, thank you very much.

However, I will make an exception for these cookies. The black pepper adds more of a aromatic fragrance rather than dominating the dessert. Besides, pepper is often used in baking sweets, namely in the French gingerbread spice blend, pain de epices. If the French do it, then it must be acceptable. The black pepper pairs well with the cashews, and the mild taste of cashews without the bitter taste of most tree nuts allows the pepper to take the main focus.

This may be a non-traditional version of the powdered sugar dusted, nut-filled cookies, but I’ve wanted to make this type of cookie for a few years, the true reason being its plethora of names. Snowballs, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Buttter Balls, and many other monikers all point to this delicate cookie with the texture of shortbread and a depth of flavor from the nuts. I wouldn’t recommend eating these while wearing a dark shirt lest you need to go someplace important afterwards and you find yourself covered in powdered sugar and cookie crumbs, but aside from that, they’re an all occaision cookie.

So, whether it’s this recipe or another favorite of yours, sit down, eat a cookie, and enjoy your Labor Day.

P.S. Have you entered my cookie giveaway yet? Don’t miss out on an opportunity to win some free cookies!

Black Pepper Cashew Butter Balls

Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen blog

Makes 40-44 cookies

1 cup raw, unsalted cashews

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar, divided

½ teaspoon vanilla

  1. Line a baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. Place the cashews on the baking sheet and bake until toasted and a light golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer them to a plate and let cool (they can hang out in the freezer for about 10 minutes if you’re in a rush).
  2. Place the cooled cashews in the food processor with the flour, salt, and pepper, and process for about 1 minute until finely ground and the mixture resembles sand. Transfer this to a bowl and set aside. In the now empty bowl of the food processor, process the butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and the vanilla until smooth and creamy. Then add back in the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough. Transfer the dough to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  3. Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 300F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop one tablespoon sized portions of the dough and roll them into balls before placing 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and beginning to firm up. Remove from the oven and transfer to cooling racks.
  4. Place the remaining 1 ½ cups powdered sugar in a wide, shallow bowl. Once the cookies have cooled for 5-6 minutes, carefully roll the cookies in the powdered sugar and place back on the racks to cool completely. When you are ready to eat them, change into a light colored shirt—you’ll thank me later once you realize the baby-powder like nature of the coating.

Note: These cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!


7 thoughts on “Black Pepper Cashew Butter Balls

  1. Can you mix it in a regular mixer instead of the food processor? My food processor isn’t that big. It can do the nuts but not all the ingredients. I will try and let you know the results.

  2. Kinsey,
    Snowballs were always my go-to holiday cookies, but I never thought of using cashews or black pepper. They are worth the powdered sugar cloud while eating because they are so good — just like a good marriage.

  3. Pingback: Honey Cookies | Inspirations Recipes

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