Noel Nut Balls

holiday handbook 2011 noel nut
Photo: Joseph De Leo
5 dozen

No holiday cookie tin would be complete without at least a few Noel nut balls, rich nut-and-butter domes, rolled in confectioners' sugar to resemble miniature snowballs. In Martha's family, the cookie dough was traditionally made with a touch of bourbon (or orange juice), for extra flavor.


  • 2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted

  • ¾ cup finely chopped pecans (best if chopped by hand)

  • ½ cup sifted confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 1 teaspoon bourbon or fresh orange juice


  1. Whisk together flour, pecans, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and honey until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in bourbon or orange juice just to combine. Add flour mixture, and beat just to combine. Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic, wrap tightly, and chill 3 hours.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough, 2 teaspoons at a time, into balls. Place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until brown around edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Roll in confectioners' sugar to coat. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

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