These gorgeous cookies go by many names, including Snowballs and Russian Tea Cakes. My version has sweet spices, fragrant rose water and uses half butter and vegetable shortening for an irresistible melt in the mouth texture. I dip half in chocolate and roll the rest in clouds of icing sugar.
½ cup ground almonds (almond meal)
2 cups plain flour
1 cup icing sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
¼ teaspoon sea salt
zest 1 large lemon
100 grams butter, diced and chilled
100 gram vegetable shortening, chopped
1 large egg, size 7
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons rosewater
200 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon rice bran oil
roughly chopped nuts of choice: pistachios, toasted almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts
chocolate glaze, see instructions below
icing sugar and crushed freeze-dried raspberries
Preheat the oven to 170˚C. (not fan bake)
Put the almonds, flour, icing sugar, baking powder, spices, salt and the lemon zest in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and vegetable shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
Whisk the egg, vanilla and rosewater together and pour into the flour mixture. Pulse until it just starts to clump comes together but don’t process to a firm ball.
Tip onto the bench and bring together with your hands. Pinch off pieces of dough then roll into walnut sized cookies. You should get about 32.
Place on 2 lined flat baking trays, spacing them about 3m apart as they will spread a little when baking.
Bake for 20 minutes until lightly golden, turning the tray for even colouring if needed. Cool.
If serving plain, gently roll each cookie in a bowl of icing sugar until well coated then sprinkle with crushed freeze-dried raspberries if using.
If coating in chocolate, follow the instructions below. Makes about 32.
Cook's note: Kremelta vegetable shortening is available in tubs in the baking section at supermarkets.
Chocolate Glaze (enough to coat half of the biscuits)
Place the chocolate in a bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water. (Don’t let the base touch the water) and leave to melt, stirring occasionally. Stir in the oil.
Leaving the bowl sitting over the saucepan but turn off the heat (so the chocolate doesn't harden). Dip the cookies in one at a time, then place on a tray lined with baking paper. Top with desired garnish and leave until the chocolate has fully set.