Holiday Let-It-Snow Cookies
Snowball Cookie Stack with Snowman by Dena T Bray Ⓒ

Thanksgiving came and went in our household twice this year—the four of us celebrated in Montreal in October for Canadian Thanksgiving. Afterward Al, Isabel and I celebrated American Thanksgiving in Etna without Clark who had to stay in Montreal. Classes were in session at McGill University. He could not come home. While both celebrations were fine, joyous, neither felt complete. One was too far away, at the other I missed my son. Still, I was ready to move on.

Then Clark came home suddenly early Sunday morning. He was searching for some quiet, a place to study, to regroup before he finishes his exams. So I decided to give Thanksgiving one more try. With no time for fancy brines for the turkey, no time  to prepare several desserts or consider some over-the-top way to do things this year, I put together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in just a few hours. It was simple—roast turkey with a few fresh herbs, cornbread dressing,  crispykale salad, spiced cranberry chutney and pumpkin pie—all made with fresh ingredients using straightforward recipes. The dinner was sudden, a surprise and it turned out to be the best Thanksgiving meal I have ever eaten because we were together, because the joy of our family permeated each bite, each moment of laughter.

I have long thought that holiday meals are not about the food, not about the anxiety and stress of creating the perfect meal at the perfect time with the perfect ingredients. Rather, they are about family and friendships, about time together, about creating taste memories with people we love. This year, I proved myself right. (I love it when that happens.)

What are your favorite holiday taste memories?

Holiday Snow Balls with Colored Background by Dena T Bray ⓒ

Delicate and delicious, these Holiday Let-It-Snow Cookies are fun to make now for gifts or to add to your cookie jar for something to munch on while you wrap gifts and drink hot cocoa. Filled with roasted pine nuts wrapped in butter and honey then tossed in ample amounts of confectioners’ sugar as soon as they come out of the oven, these light and flavorful treats melt in your mouth. Plan to give them as gifts? Double the recipe so you are sure to have enough for yourself, and for Santa. Ho. Ho. Ho.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


If you are looking for more holiday cookie ideas, any of these will do: Chocolate Chip Macaroons, Anise Shortbread, Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips,Dark Chocolate Krispie Brownies and Old Fashioned OatmealCookies.

Holiday Snowball Cookies by Dena T Bray Ⓒ


Yield: 24 Cookies


  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pour the pine nuts onto a cookie sheet with raised sides. Spread them out in a single layer. Roast in the oven until they are golden, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Chop finely.
  3. In a standing mixer or by hand in a large bowl, cream the butter until it is fluffy. Beat in the honey. Gradually mix in the flour and salt, then the vanilla. Add the chopped pine nuts.
  4. Form the dough into 36 small balls. Place on a plate, wrap tightly with Saran wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place dough balls on the cookie sheets, spacing them a few inches apart from each other. Bake until golden, about 35 to 40 minutes.
  6. Remove the cookies from the oven. As soon as the cookies are cool enough to touch, roll in the confectioners’ sugar. Allow to cool and roll again in the sugar.
  7. Serve and enjoy.


  1. This recipe originally appeared in the Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. Called Butterballs,  their recipe uses pecans instead of pine nuts. I made a few other small adjustments.
  2. If you do not plan to eat these right away, store in an airtight container for up to a week. Or, freeze until ready to use. Give them an extra sprinkling of confectioners' sugar after they come out of the freezer.

Santa by Dena T Bray Ⓒ

One Year Ago: Chocolate Chip Macaroons

Two Years Ago: Apple Tart Tatin

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.