These beloved Snowball Cookies get an upgrade with brown butter and macadamia nuts. Take a bite and travel to a tropical island this holiday season! Thank you to MacFarms® for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
As you may already know, I’m obsessed with all things Hawaiian and macadamia nuts! My favorite pastime activity is to tinker with classic recipes and turn them tropical, like these Tropical Rugelach or these Tropical Oatmeal Cookies (all contain macadamia nuts of course!)
My latest experiment was to transform a classic holiday snowball cookie recipe into these out-of-this-world Brown Butter Macadamia Nut Snowball Cookies. The brown butter takes these cookies to the next level, the macadamia nuts and coffee bring the flavors of paradise home.
MacFarms Macadamia Orchard is on the Big Island of Hawaii, which happens to be one of the islands I haven’t had a chance to visit. Their macadamia nuts are hand-picked and cracked fresh on site to bring you the most premium macadamias in the world. That’s right friend, we’re getting these delicious nuts straight from the source!
What you’ll need
Some notable ingredients are:
- Brown butter – quite easy to make and will take any of your baked goods to the next level. If you haven’t made brown butter before, check out my step by step tutorial.
- Cornstarch – added alongside flour, this will give your cookies a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Coconut milk – a small amount is used mainly to help bind the dough together because cookie dough made with brown butter tends to be a bit crumbly since the water from the butter has been evaporated. You can substitute regular milk.
- Honey – just a little bit of honey is used as a sweetener. These snowball cookies will be rolled in powdered sugar once baked which will sweeten them further.
- MacFarms’s Natural Macadamia Nut – the star of this recipe. I used their baker’s pack which will be plenty enough plus more. You can certainly snack on the leftovers or make Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts!
- Instant espresso – when I think of Hawaii, I think macadamia nuts and Kona coffee. So, infusing coffee flavor in these cookies seems natural. If you don’t have instant espresso, use very finely ground coffee. You will feel the granule in the cookies but it will do the trick.
How to make snowball cookies
First you’ll need to brown the butter and let it cool completely. You will use everything including the brown milk solid, so no need to strain the brown butter for this recipe.
Second, you’ll need to chop up the macadamia nuts. We want them in very very small pieces. You can chop by hand, or use a food processor as I do. Just make sure you don’t turn it into macadamia butter.
Now, you’re ready to make the cookie dough.
- Beat together the brown butter, coconut milk, vanilla extract and instant espresso.
- Prepare the dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl and add the mixture to the wet ingredients.
- Mix until just combined. The dough will need to chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Portion the dough using a small cookie scoop and roll into 1” balls. This recipe will yield about 25 snowball cookies.
Once the cookies are baked and cooled slightly, you can roll them in powdered sugar and then let them cool completely. I only roll them in powdered sugar once, but if you want them a little sweeter or more “snowy” looking, roll them the second time once they have cooled completely.
- Many snowball cookie recipes call for rolling these in powdered sugar when they’re still warm and a second time when cooled. I find them too sweet this way, so I like to roll them just once, when they’re already slightly cooled. This way the powdered sugar won’t melt into the cookies and will remain snowy.
- You could make these larger if you wish but I think these bite-size snowball cookies are perfect because they’re so fragile, it’s better to eat them in one to two bites.
- Before I settle on using coffee for flavoring, I also tested these with ground ginger and orange zest. The flavor is bright and just as delicious. Feel free to experiment with different spices and flavoring.
These snowball cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 – 4 days or up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
If you’re planning to make these ahead of the busy holiday season, I recommend making a larger batch, freezing the dough, and then baking them from frozen. Just add 1 – 2 minutes to your bake time.
I would avoid freezing them after they are baked just because they are quite fragile.
What is your favorite holiday cookie? If you love edible gifts in your stocking, check out MacFarms’s online shop, I particularly love the coconut macaroon macadamias. They’re so buttery and amazingly delicious! Use code “wildwildwhisk” for 15% off.
More recipes with macadamia nuts
- Big Island Cookies
- Surfer Granola
- Macadamia Coconut Croissants
- White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Macadamia Nuts
- Chocolate Shortbread with Macadamia Nuts
- Tropical Pizookie
Brown Butter Macadamia Snowball Cookies
- 4 oz unsalted butter (yields ~90 g brown butter)
- 2 tablespoon coconut milk (25 g)
- 2 tablespoon honey (42 g)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso (1 g)
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour (97 g)
- ¼ cup cornstarch (33 g)
- ¾ cup roasted macadamia nuts (96 g)
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup powdered sugar (for rolling, sifted, 50 g)
- Brown the butter in a small saucepan on medium low heat, about 4-6 minutes. Transfer the brown butter to the stand mixer bowl and allow to cool completely.
- In the meantime, finely chop the roasted macadamia nuts either by hand or in a food processor.
- Sift the flour and cornstarch into a small mixing bowl. Stir in the kosher salt and finely chopped macadamia nuts. Set aside.
- Once the brown butter has cooled completely, add the coconut milk, honey, vanilla extract and instant espresso powder. Beat with the paddle attachment until combined.
- Add the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape the side and bottom of the bowl to ensure thorough mixing. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.
- Divide the cookie dough with a small cookie scoop and roll into 1” balls, about 15 g each. This recipe will yield about 25 cookies.
- Keep the cookie dough balls refrigerated while the oven is preheated to 350°F.
- Place the dough balls on a cookie sheet about 1” apart and bake for 10 – 11 mins until the bottom edges are golden brown.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool for at least 10 – 15 minutes. When the cookies are cool enough to handle with your bare hand, roll them in powdered sugar and set them on another wire rack to cool completely.
- If using raw macadamia nuts, toast them in a skillet until slightly brown and fragrant, and let cool before using.
- You can substitute the instant espresso powder with very finely ground coffee. You can substitute coconut milk with regular milk.
- Flavor variation: use ½ teaspoon ground ginger and ½ teaspoon orange zest (from ½ an orange) in place of the instant espresso powder.