Noël Balls – Cover to Cover with The Bitten Word

Noël Balls-Shortbread balls covered in powdered sugar.

Noël Balls -Magical balls of melt in your mouth shortbread cookie surrounded by powdered sugar snow. Messy, but oh-so-delicious!

The Cover to Cover Challenge

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. My family certainly aren’t big fans of celery. I can honestly say we stepped out of our  ‘box’ and actually enjoyed the salad.

Noël Balls-Ingredients displayed on a baking sheet.

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Cover to Cover Noel Edition

I was just beginning to wonder if the lads were going to host another ‘Cover to Cover’ event. So I decided to check their blog and BINGO! They were asking for participants to cook 25 different holiday cookie recipes from six different magazines. This included the December 2014 issue of Food & Wine magazine. I responded right away without even though I still had some much to do before Christmas. Over the next couple of days 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?

Noël Balls-Shortbread cookie balls wait to be baked on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Noël Balls: My 2014 Cover to Cover Assignment

Assignments were emailed out and upon first glance of the Noël Balls recipe I was not really excited. The funny thing was that they also contained dates, just like the celery salad. The recipe also appeared to contain an excessive amount of icing 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 super impressed with how they turned out. They will surely be a big hit on our holiday goodie platter.

Noël Balls-A shortbread cookie ball being rolled in powdered sugar.
Noël Balls-Shortbread balls covered in powdered sugar.


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Other Merry posts from Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen

Homemade S’mores

Smoked Salmon and Caper Arancini

If you make these Noel Balls, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.

Yield: 20

Noel Balls

Noël Balls-Shortbread balls covered in powdered sugar.

Magical balls of melt in your mouth shortbread cookie surrounded by powdered sugar snow. Messy, but oh-so-delicious!

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 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
  • 2 3/4-3 cups of confectioner’s sugar would be more than enough to get the job done)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


    1. Using a food processor, pulse the pecans until finely ground.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk the ground pecans with the flour, dates and salt.
    3. 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.
    4. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until just combined.
    5. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
    6. Spread the remaining 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar in a large pie pan.
    7. Working in 3 batches, using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop the dough into 1-inch balls.
    8. Arrange the balls on the prepared sheets at least 1 inch apart.
    9. Bake 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.
    10. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then roll them in the confectioners’ sugar until completely coated.
    11. Let cool completely, then roll again in the confectioners’ sugar.
    12. Place balls on Christmas cookie platter and enjoy!


Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 387Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 55mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 2gSugar: 52gProtein: 2g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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  1. foodisthebestshitever

    Damn that cover thing sounds hot. You are a machine B!… and your balls look great…

    All the very best of the season to you and yours! Good luck getting through all of that food 🙂


  2. cathyandchucky

    These look really grand Bernice 😄


  3. Teresa

    That’s a cool project. I’ll be curious to look through the round up of all the posts. Those noel balls look like something I’d make a beeline for on a holiday dessert table.


    1. dishnthekitchen

      yes, I’ll link to the post when they have it up. They will do a round up post or two about the project. Last time my photo ended up on the Bon Appetit website!
      I’ve been dreaming up a new variation on the Noel Balls 🙂

    2. Teresa

      I remember this post! I was thinking about trying to make a gluten-free version, but never got around to it. Maybe this year. (I know what you mean about December baking projects – it’s a bit hectic!)

    3. dishnthekitchen

      haha, good thing I recycle old posts 😉 Let me know if you do!

  4. chef mimi

    YUM. And I love that they keep their round shape!


    1. dishnthekitchen

      Yeah. It makes for another interesting shape on the goodie tray. It’s great to have an assortment.

  5. Laureen Fox

    Yum! I love medjool dates in baked goods! I wonder how well the recipe would turn out if I used a gluten free flour blend? I might try making a half batch just to see.


    1. dishnthekitchen

      They are very similar to shortbread so if you’ve had success with GF shortbread I don’t see why it wouldn’t work out just fine.

  6. Joyce

    Looks good Bernice! Have fun baking 😉


  7. Joyce

    Looks good, Bernice! Have fun baking 😉


  8. Jess Meddows

    Bernice, these little balls look so delicious! I love medjool dates in desserts. They are just a bit pricey and I have a bad habit of snacking on them before I get around to cooking with them! 😉


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