Grain-Free, Vegan Snowball Cookies

 In Cookies, Dairy Free, Dessert, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Holiday, Recipes, Snacks, Vegan

Happy First Day of Winter!

Grain free, Vegan Snowball Cookies

 I thought a fitting tribute to the season would be…snowballs.  As in snowball cookies.  And this version is both grain free and dairy free.

The 21st of December also happens to be the 21st anniversary of my Debutante Ball.  I’ll pause here for you to insert your judgments.  OK?

Though it was a special occasion (which for me commemorated seven years of volunteer work within our community; it was not a high society thing), it was not a life-altering or momentous event.  I remember it mostly because it fell on the first day of Winter.

I bring this up because it is part of a story about wild coincidences.

When we moved to Charlotte in 2006, I didn’t know a single, solitary person who lived here.  I had only been in the city once before and – let’s be honest – I never thought I’d live anywhere besides California.

Slowly, we integrated into our new home.  I made some friends at work and got to know our neighbors, who introduced us to an even wider network of acquaintances.  We also joined a church – something Southerners uphold as a societal standard.  There, we met even more people and after we had children, that community became critical – offering support in the form of friendships, spirituality and opportunities for our children to form their very first non-family relationships.

Our children attended preschool at this church and there I met a fellow Mom with whom I shared a blossoming kinship.  Our kids have now gone to school together since they were two years old.  Which means I get to see a lot of her.  For which I’m glad.  She is a native Charlottean; her innate knowledge of our community has been a great resource for us time and again.

She and I are similar in many ways.  Our sense of fashion is eerily parallel.  We have many of the same pieces in our wardrobe and we have to be careful not to wear the same thing to the same function.

We are different in ways, too.  For example, she has this motherhood thing down.  And she makes it look easy.  I had to call her when I did carpool pick-up for the first time so she could walk me through what to do.  Pausing again for judgment…

I seek her counsel often as it relates to child-rearing.  My own kids think of her as a surrogate mother because they know she knows what she’s doing!

This year, we attended a holiday party at her parents’ home.  It’s always fun to see childhood photos and relics of someone you’ve only known in adulthood.  I noticed one particular framed photo of my friend in a white gown.  At first I thought it was a wedding picture, but her elbow-length white gloves gave her away.  It was a photo from her Debutante Ball.  Naturally, I picked up the frame to get a closer look.  Her gown had a checkerboard waistband and hem and a ballet-neck collar.  And though the back wasn’t pictured, I knew it was squared with a bow at the base.  How did I know?

I wore the same dress!  2,500 miles and worlds apart; two strangers in the same dress, who became friends almost twenty years later.  Wild, isn’t it?

Have you even been part of a story like that?  I’d love to hear about it!

In the meantime, I hope your Winter brings some stillness and reflection.  I hope the weather is just what you like it to be (warm or cold or snowy or sunny).  Enjoy this season of pause before Spring brings change!  And enjoy these snowballs while they’re still in season!

Grain-free, vegan snowball cookies

Grain-Free, Vegan Snowball Cookies

  • Prep Time: 10m
  • Total Time: 40m


  • 2 heaping cups raw walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar (about ½ cup)

How To Do It

  1. Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse until a coarse, but uniform, mixture forms. Transfer the ground walnuts to a bowl.
  2. To the bowl, add the sugars, salt, coconut oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup and stir with a stiff spatula until combined.
  3. Transfer the bowl to the fridge and allow to chill about 30 minutes.
  4. In a shallow bowl, sift the powdered sugar.
  5. Remove the bowl from the fridge and form the dough into about 10 golf-ball sized balls. For each ball, pack the walnut mixture tightly and roll in your hands until smooth.
  6. Roll each ball through the powdered sugar until coated, then transfer the ball to a sheet of wax paper.
  7. Repeat until all balls are sugar-coated.
  8. Store these in a sealed container in the fridge. They’ll last up to two weeks. They also freeze well.
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