Noël Balls – Cover to Cover with The Bitten Word

Recently I started going through some older posts of mine and I found the Celery Salad  with Dates, Almonds, and Parmesan post that I wrote as part of the ‘Cover to Cover’ blog event hosted by The Bitten Word. Myself, and many other participants made every single recipe from the September 2013 Bon Appétit issue and reported our adventures back to Clay and Zach. While we as a family certainly aren’t big fans of celery, I can honestly say we stepped out of our  ‘box’ and actually enjoyed the salad.

I was just beginning to wonder if the lads at The Bitten Word were going to host another ‘Cover to Cover’ event and when I checked on their blog…wouldn’t you know it? They were asking for participants to cook 25 different holiday cookie recipes from six different magazines, including the December 2014 issue of Food & Wine magazine. I responded right away without even thinking about how many treats I already needed to be baking for Christmas. Over the next couple of days, while I waited for my assignment, I thought maybe I had spread myself too thin. What if the cookie I was assigned wasn’t ‘a keeper’ on our Christmas goodie tray? Would I have wasted precious baking time for nothing?

Assignments were emailed out and upon first glance of the Noël Balls recipe I was not really excited. The funny thing was (and I am in no means opposed to them) that they contained dates, just like the celery salad had. The recipe also appeared to contain an excessive amount of icing (confectioner’s) sugar. With the dates and sugar involved I was expecting the cookies to be intolerably sweet.

Well I’m pleased to say I was wrong on all accounts. These cookies have a great buttery sweet flavour and superb texture. I was pleasantly surprised at how they turned out and I think they will be a big hit on our holiday goodie platter. noelballs1

Noël Balls (Food & Wine Magazine)


  • 1 1/4 cups pecan halves
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped plump Medjool dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (This is the only change I would make to the recipe. 2 3/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar would be more than enough to get the job done)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. In a food processor, pulse the pecans until finely ground. In a medium bowl, whisk the ground pecans with the flour, dates and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the butter with ¾ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread the remaining 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar in a large pie pan. Working in 3 batches, using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop the dough into 1-inch balls. Arrange the balls on the prepared sheets at least 1 inch apart. nakedballsBake the cookies for 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then roll them in the confectioners’ sugar until completely coated. Let cool completely, then roll again in the confectioners’ sugar.icingsugar

Place balls on Christmas cookie platter and enjoy!noelballs2