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Pistachio-Coconut Snowballs

Servings: 24 cookies

These shortbread-ish cookies follow the tradition of Russian teacakes and Mexican wedding cookies. To up their impact, pistachios are toasted directly in browned salted butter. Once baked, instead of the usual confectioners’ sugar flurries, the balls are draped in white chocolate before a roll in shredded coconut for the full snowball treatment. Make them your own by swapping in nuts of choice; switching the extract to almond, orange, or lemon; or including a flutter of spice—cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg are strong candidates. The recipe doubles easily.


  • 1 cup (227 g) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (120 g) shelled pistachios, finely chopped
  • Seeds scraped from a vanilla bean, or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (57 g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 1-3/4 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 cups (212 g) sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 11-oz. package white chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 Tbs. coconut oil


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once fully melted, continue to cook, stirring often, until the butter foams and starts smelling faintly nutty. (At this point the milk solids will be sitting and toasting at the bottom of the pan.) Add the pistachios, and cook and stir until golden brown and very aromatic, about 5 minutes. Pass the butter through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Set the pistachios aside. Stir the vanilla bean seeds into the butter, then chill until firm, about 30 minutes. (If using extract, add it with the confectioners’ sugar.)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then sift the flour over the bowl. Stir on low until just combined, adding the pistachios toward the end of mixing. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until quite firm, at least 1 hour.

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a spring-loaded scoop or spoons, portion the dough into 24 pieces. Roll each into a ball and arrange 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until dry and set but without color, about 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Let cool on the baking sheet until cool enough to handle, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pour the coconut into a deep bowl. Stir the coconut oil into the melted white chocolate. Using a fork, dip a cooled cookie into the white chocolate, coating completely. Remove, letting excess white chocolate drip away, then drop immediately into the shredded coconut, turning with a clean fork so all sides are coated. Place the cookie on a parchment-lined sheet pan to firm up. Continue dipping and coating the remaining cookies.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week, with parchment or waxed paper between layers.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • Debs_diner | 01/19/2022

    This recipe didn't say if you could use salted Pistachios. That was all I could find. I was afraid the cookies would be to salty but they were fine once you coated them in white chocolate. I didn't have a vanilla bean so i substituted with 2 tsp. of vanilla paste. These were a hit with every one.

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