Snowball Melt Aways, Gluten Free


Wedding cake cookies. Russian Tea Cakes. Snowballs or Kourambiethes. Melting Moments and Sand Tarts. Whatever they’re called, these little treats are major stars in the holiday cookie line-up.

This cookie could not be more easy to make. Think of it as the stress-less treat. Whip up the dough – it takes only a few minutes. Send it to the big chill for however long you wish and bake some up when the need for holiday cheer comes calling. In fact, these cookies taste better the longer the dough has a chance to age. Something about the flavors becoming better acquainted over time.

For more great holiday baking tips go visit this post by Stella from Bravetart.  Her fabulous holiday baking survival guide can save your sanity.

In the meantime, make some of these and you can have a variety of great gluten-free cookies whenever you like. Make them into snowballs covered in tons of powdered sugar, or turn them into adorable little festive thumbprint melt-aways with jeweled jam in the center.

But seriously. Go make these. You won’t regret it. And for more fun trivia on these (and other) cookies, visit the Food Timeline here.

Snowball Melt Aways, Gluten Free
Adapted from the universe of Google, and my collection of baking books. Largely influenced by Alice Medrich's Gooey Chewy Cookie book, and Smitten Kitchen, and my booze cupboard. Most ground (toasted) nuts will work in this cookie, including the holiday roasted chestnut, but my all time favorite is the pecan. Don't skimp on the spices or the booze. It may seem like a lot, but it mellows considerably so that each is a back note. Ideally, leave the dough to chill overnight and a couple more days is even better. I like to take out what I need for a batch of fresh cookies and let the rest remain chilling until they are called to action. These are fabulous just warm and rolled in powdered sugar, but they are scrumptious the 2nd day (roll them in powdered sugar again before serving so they look pretty). Best stored in a cookie tin. If you have any leftover, that is.
  • 228 grams unsalted butter at room temperature (1 cup or 2 sticks)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto
  • 1 teaspoon brandy
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 125 grams powdered sugar, sifted (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 9 oz. GF flour (7 oz. superfine brown rice flour, 1 oz. superfine white rice flour, 1 oz. tapioca starch)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 125 to 150 grams ground toasted hazelnuts, pecans, almonds or roasted chestnuts (1 to 1.5 cups)
  • extra powdered sugar for rolling
  • ½ cup of really good jelly, heated to reduce and thicken slightly (optional for thumbprints)
  1. Cream butter, flavoring, liquors, cardamom together. Add powdered sugar (sift it, please) and mix well. Add egg yolk and mix that in. Weigh flours together and whisk. Add salt to flour and whisk again. Add to creamed mixture and blend well. Add ground nuts and mix again. Using a spatula stir from the bottom to incorporate the rogue dry stuff. Scrape into a container and refrigerate at least overnight. The mixture will be very sticky at this point. Don't worry about it - yet.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment if you are baking the whole batch at once. Scoop dough by small tablespoons and shape into bite-sized balls. They will expand a little bit, so smaller is better to keep them bite-sized. Place close together on the baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes and rotate. Bake about 5-8 minutes more until bottoms are golden and the tops pale, but baked.
  3. Cool for just a few minutes and roll in powdered sugar while still very warm. Cool completely and roll again. And then roll them again in powdered sugar before serving. You want them to look like they rolled in a fresh snowfall.
  4. Optional: Thumbprints. Roll into balls as directed. Once on the baking sheet press gently to create a flatter cookie with an indent in the center. Be gentle because they tend to crack a bit with too much pressure. Take a ½ teaspoon or less of the reduced jelly and place in the center indent. Don't over do it or the jelly will make a small tsunami. A little bit goes a long way. Bake as directed. Cool completely. Take a piping tip the size of the jelly circle and cover the small side tip with plastic wrap. Place over the jelly on the cooled cookie and gently sift a little bit of powdered sugar over the cookie. Remove the piping tip. The "snow" should be covering the whole cookie except the jelly center. If you aren't a little bit obsessed like me about stuff like that, just sprinkle a little bit of sugar over the whole thing. Merry Holiday!


  1. Lisa, I’m amazed at the perfectly round thumbs you must have. 😉 So pretty. Love the thumbprint variation.

    • GlutenFreeCanteen says:

      I am very proud of my round thumbs… seriously, they are anything but! but thanks – the thumbprints were always my favorite.