These Finnish cookies are made with browned butter, toasted pecans and maple syrup, and then rolled in powdered sugar. There are a number of similar cookies, such as Snowballs, Mexican wedding cookies, and Russian Tea cakes. Tony’s mother is half Finnish and she remembers her Finnish Grandmother making them when she was a child, so she has always called them Finnish cookies. They are a family tradition, and we make them every year at celebrations. Over the years we have made a few changes to her Grandmother’s version, though. This version is made with pecans and maple syrup, ingredients that are native to America, so maybe we should probably call them American cookies at this point, but we are not going to mess with tradition that much.
We updated the recipe to give the cookies more flavor and to make this a sustainable recipe that a baker who is worried about climate change can feel good about.
FLAVOR – The nuts were toasted, the butter was browned, the vanilla was doubled, maple syrup was added, and the sugar was homemade superfine sugar to give the cookies a sweetness without the pasty texture of powdered sugar. Each of these changes added a little more flavor.
SUSTAINABLE – We chose ingredients that are produced sustainably and with a low carbon footprint. Instead of walnuts or almonds, we used pecans, a native nut that was grown in Texas with a low impact on the environment. The brand of sugar and butter were chosen for taste, but also for the companies efforts to combat climate change. We are making an effort to solve the climate crisis, one cookie at a time.
- MEASURE INGREDIENTS BY WEIGHT USING A SCALE – this is very important. Cookies are small, so a small error can make a big difference. Additionally, measuring by weight is so much easier and more accurate.
- USE THE BRANDS LISTED IN THE RECIPE – cookies contain only a few ingredients, so each ingredient matters enormously. Flour varies in protein and moisture content, butter varies in water content and sugar varies in size and texture and in the amount of refinement. All of these things effect the way the cookie will bake. The recipes were created and tested using the brands listed and changing the brands can lead to errors. For details about the importance of using a specific brand, check out the information on our EAT BETTER tab.
- USE AN OVEN THERMOMETER – The temperature of the oven can vary greatly from what the oven is set to.
- MAKE THE INGREDIENTS AHEAD OF TIME – This recipe is much easier if the sugar is ground, the butter is browned (beurre noisette), and the nuts are toasted ahead of time. We do all of this ahead and have a supply on hand in the pantry or refrigerator.
- MAPLE SUGAR – These cookies are known for being crumbly because of the amount of nuts in them and because the only water in the recipe is from the butter. By browning the butter, we have removed the small amount of water that was in the butter. By adding the maple sugar, we are adding back some water. The maple sugar is added to the flour and the flour is allowed to sit for five minutes in order to activate the gluten in the flour so the cookies are not too crumbly. This is a tip we learned from Shirley O. Corriher‘s book “Bakewise”. The maple sugar also adds some extra flavor and sweetness to the cookies.
- Allow the ingredients to come to room temberature (about 65 degrees). This may take about an hour.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. This may take about half an hour.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Measure the flour into a bowl.
- Sprinkle the maple syrup over the top of the flour and stir.
- Add the salt to the flour mixture.
- Using the food processor, finely grind half the pecans, stopping before they start to clump. Do not over process the nuts or they will become nut butter. Add the ground pecans to the flour mixture.
- Using the food processor, coarsely chop the rest of the pecans. Add the chopped pecans to the flour mixture and stir the flour and nuts together.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle, soften the butter by beating it on medium for about a minute. Do not let the temperature of the butter exceed 68 degrees F.
- Add the sugar and cream the butter and sugar on medium for about three minutes, until the mixture is light colored and fluffy.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla, mixing just until the vanilla is incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low just until mixed, about 30 seconds. Do not overwork the dough. Scraping down the sides and mix in any remaining flour by hand.
- Roll the dough into balls about the size of a walnut and place on the baking sheet about two inches apart.
- Bake until they are set, but not browning, about 20 minutes.
- Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheet.
- Place the powdered sugar in a bowl and carefully roll each cookie, one at a time, in the powdered sugar to coat it and then place it on a rack to cool.
- When the cookies have cooled, reroll each cookie in the powdered sugar and then give them a final dusting of powdered sugar by sifting some over the top of the cookies.