Butterballs go by many names: snowballs, Russian tea cakes and Mexican wedding cookies or cakes are common alternatives. Whatever you call them, you'll know them by their rounded shape, the buttery texture that melts in your mouth, and the patina of powdered sugar they leave on your fingers.

This recipe comes to me from my maternal grandmother by way of my mother. Technology being what it is today, my mother dug out the old original recipe card in Grandma's handwriting and the "new-fangled" one typed on a manual typewriter (kids, ask your parents) almost half a century ago, scanned them into her computer, and emailed me the pdf file (shown at right). I worked off my laptop screen in the kitchen.

The cookies are my mom's favorite, the ones Grandma made for Christmas every year at her request. I hope I've done them justice; Mom will be the judge when I mail her a box. Shhh, don't let her know -- it's a surprise.

Butterballs

1 cup butter

4 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour (sifted)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup crushed walnuts (optional)

Additional powdered sugar for coating finished cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix the first six ingredients.

2. Roll into balls.

3. Bake for 17 to 18 minutes.

4. Allow cookies to cool before rolling in the extra powdered sugar.

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If your hungry cookie eaters have nut allergies, you can omit the nuts in this recipe with no other changes.

The amount of cookies you end up with depends on the size you roll them. Using a small cookie scoop, I turned out four dozen. If you make the cookies straight from the cookie scoop, they'll have a rough, craggy texture on top. If you want a smoother appearance, use the cookie scoop to get the right amount of dough and finish by rolling the dough into a sphere in your hand.

Note that if you try to roll the cookies in the powdered sugar before they've cooled enough, you'll end up with a smeared mess instead of a nice dusting of sugar.

-- Reach Mel Barber at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.