Nutty Butter Balls with Variations

about 3 dozen cookies

  • ½ cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon(s) freshly grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • ¾ cup finely chopped pecans or English walnuts or hazelnuts or toasted blanched almonds
  • Additional sifted confectioners’ sugar as needed

In a medium bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour and nuts.  Chill dough in refrigerator for 10 minutes.  Form dough into balls, using 1 rounded teaspoon for each.  Place balls, 1-inch apart, on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake in a preheated moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 10 to 15 minutes, or until done.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.  Roll each ball in confectioners’ sugar while slightly warm.  Store cookies in an airtight container. 

Variations: Omit nuts.  Add ¾ cup coconut to cookie dough. Reduce nuts to 1/3 cup and add 1/3 cup finely chopped green and red candied cherries to dough. Omit orange peel; add about ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg to cookie mixture. Add ½ teaspoon brandy or rum flavoring to cookie dough. 

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