Pecan Snowballs + Hazelnut Thumbprints + Raw Gingerbread Balls

A note about holiday time:

When it comes to Christmas time, I am not nearly as health-conscious as I am throughout the rest of the year. If you visit this blog mostly to find healthy food, you’ll just have to accept that the month of December is more about making/eating healthIER options rather than “healthy,” per se. I abandon my diligent health-feelers for mainly one reason: I fucking  (i’m trying to watch my sailor mouth on the blog; apparently it might not be the best way to increase my readership) love Christmas cookies. Making them, eating them, gifting them, taking pictures of them. Cannot.Get.Enough. My oven is on almost every other day during December. Gotta make a ton of batches, because there are so many reasons for cookies! Holiday parties, gift for the newspaper deliverer (also tip this person in cash; they deserve it–and if you live in Ohio, it might be my mom!), a snack during Christmas-movie watching, etcetera etcetera.

That being said, I’m all about trying to balance it out by eating really healthy meals the whole day and trying my best to practice moderation during those cookie indulgences.

So, what this means for the blog is that you’ll be getting a lot of recipes that include ingredients you may not be used to seeing in most of my recipes: namely actual vegan cane sugar, and Earth Balance. As you know, I try to do sugar substitutes whenever possible–and for many of these recipes, I do just that—but sometimes a cookie maker just needs some real sugar, knowwhatimsayin?

I’ve baked three types of cookies so far: pecan snowballs, hazelnut thumbprints, and raw gingerbread balls. Those are ordered from most not-so-great-for-you ingredients to practically guilt-free. Let’s start with sugar-free/gluten-free/legit “healthy” and work backwards.

The raw gingerbread ball (see center of cookie plate) idea was inspired by the twins at Pure2Raw. I only slightly modified by nixing the mesquite (didn’t have any), and using less molasses and more dates. I didn’t end up making the carob glaze either, but they didn’t need it! Delicious, raw, refined sugar-free, and easy!

The hazelnut thumbprints are from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. I can’t post the recipe since it’s from the book and not online, but I highly recommend buying it or getting it from the library. My substitutions: I used coconut sugar instead of regular sugar, and whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour. And, of course, I used sugar-free jam for the middle. These are *amazing* cookies, and all the better if you stick to hazelnut butter rather than almond butter (and it’s easy to make yourself!).

Finally, this is my healthIER, vegan version of what is commonly called a “Mexican wedding cookie.” Here’s what you’ll need:

1 c Earth Balance

1/2 c coconut sugar

2 t vanilla extract

1-2 t almond milk

2 c whole wheat pastry flour

1 c chopped pecans

1/2 c powdered sugar for rolling

Cream together your Earth Balance (or other vegan butter substitute) with your coconut sugar. If you have a stand-up mixer or a hand mixer, I’d recommend using that. Next, add your vanilla and almond milk (add one teaspoon, and wait to add the second, only if you think the dough is too thick after adding the flour). Sift in your flour and pecans, and mix into a thick dough. Chill the dough for at least 3 hours.

After chilling, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into balls and place on a baking sheet and bake for about 17 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes—just cool enough so you can touch them. Roll the warm balls in powdered sugar and let cool again.

They are, at once, crunchy, sweet, wholesome and delicious.

Do you like baking cookies for the holidays? What have you baked so far?

7 thoughts on “Pecan Snowballs + Hazelnut Thumbprints + Raw Gingerbread Balls

  1. KatsHealthCorner says:

    “making/eating healthIER options rather than “healthy,” per se.”
    Girl, I love you. :) I’m so glad that you’ve found that balance with yourself this holiday season. Sometimes it can be hard to face the holidays, but you inspire me.

    Those cookies look so good! :D

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