Hazelnut Sandies

sandiesSandies (AKA Mexican Wedding Cake, Snowball Cookies, Russian Tea Cakes) have been enjoyed since the Middle Ages in England. They have a rich history in my family, too, as we had them every year at Christmas along with Divinity (ugh) and Seven Layer Bars (yum). My recipe is on an 3×5 inch recipe card, along with other relics I keep in a green plastic box that I acquired in high school. I preserved this card with a plastic sheath made for such purposes, but still, it’s delightfully blotched with bits of butter that seeped onto the card before I decided to preserve it.

I typed some of my favorite recipes on recipe cards at some point during high school, undoubtedly working on my “hope chest,” an idea that is antiquated and perhaps a bit offensive now. The word “filbert,” which is what we called hazelnuts back then, drifts letter by letter up toward the line above it that says “pecans.” Accidental no doubt, yet it drifts with emphasis, an assertion that filbert ought to be the nut of choice here, rather than the more traditional pecan.

This year I’m starting a tradition of baking Christmas cookies with my grandchildren which I hope continues for a Very Long Time. Three-year old Auden and Juniper have enjoyed helping me in the kitchen for some time, dragging the black chair from the dining room so they can stand counter high and pour, stir, and lick. Mostly, if it’s allowed, they lick.

Auden came over to bake Sandies with me this week. Her mom overheard her talking to herself before I arrived, saying, “It is so unexpected that I get to bake with Grammy today!”  She was speaking with much enthusiasm, so her mother says, as though she’s not been to my house already on countless occasions to bake. Still, it made me smile. After rolling the balls and putting them in the oven we sat down for our traditional tea/hot chocolate. She wanted to do “cheers” by smashing our mugs together, which we do often enough, but since I’d pulled out the fancy tea cups I taught her how to do pinky cheers instead and we started calling each other Madam, and I taught her to drink with one pinky in the air, which was dangerous for her, in terms of spilling her hot chocolate, which she did. At any rate, she told me I was a cool girl, which I took as a high compliment. I haven’t been called that in a Long While.

Juniper is coming over after Thanksgiving, and we’ll make gingerbread people and Seven Layer Bars–stories and recipes will be forthcoming.

Ingredients & Directions:

1 cup butter at room temperature
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. each of water and vanilla
2 c. sifted flour
1 c. finely chopped hazelnuts

Cream butter and sugar. Add water and vanilla and mix well. Blend in flour & nuts and chill at least four hours.
Preheat oven to 325. Shape in little balls and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 20 minutes. Remove to cooling racks to cool slightly. Roll in 1 c. powdered sugar.

If your cookie in still warm enough to absorb the sugar the first time, roll them again when they  are completely cool for a double rolling and a slightly sweeter cookie. Some people do it this way on purpose. I don’t, because I like the more subdued sweetness which compliments the butter’s richness.

sandies1

 

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